Chloracne is a particularly extreme form of acne, and is universally linked with exposure to dioxins1.

Symptoms normally appear a few months after exposure, and include blackheads (on the face in all cases, and on the body in more severe cases). These are usually accompanied by fluid-filled cysts, and increased growth of body-hair. Such symptoms may persist for up to 30 years in certain cases.

Chloracne is a known side-effect of exposure to Agent Orange, which contains dioxins and was used during the Vietnam War.

More recently, it hit the news in November 2004 after the leader of the Ukrainian opposition, Viktor Yushchenko, claimed to have been poisoned by the country's ruling authorities during the run-up to elections in the former-Soviet state. It was speculated that drastic changes in his appearance, including chloracne, were the result of dioxin poisoning, possibly through food or drink.

Update 18 Dec 2004: Although initially disputed, it has now been confirmed that Yushchenko's disfigurement is the result of poisoning with TCDD, "the most harmful known dioxin". Levels of dioxins in his blood are the second highest ever recorded. He is said to have become ill after eating dinner with the head of the Ukrainian Security Service.

1However, the converse is not true; that is, absence of chloracne does not imply that the person has not been exposed to dioxins.

Bibliography and Further Reading

  • The Independent, 23 November 2004, p23; "Has Yushchenko Been Poisoned?"
  • (Updates) , ,

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