Gulf War Syndrome Skin Rash

Many Gulf War veterans suffer from unexplained health issues categorized under the Gulf War Syndrome, and skin rash can be one of them. 

If you are one of those veterans who served in the Gulf War during the early 1990s, you may be eligible for disability benefits due to skin conditions. 

In this article, we will dive into the topic of skin rash as part of the Gulf War Syndrome and how to be eligible for disability compensation and/or benefits. 

Gulf War Veterans’ Medically Unexplained Illnesses

Gulf War Syndrome is a complex medical disorder with no clear definition. There is no single, definitive diagnosis for this illness. Instead, it refers to a variety of unexplained medical issues that veterans have had as a result of their participation in the Gulf War.

Gulf War soldiers who served in places like Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and others frequently have a variety of health concerns that defy traditional medical explanations. These physical and emotional disorders are symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome, and they have a negative impact on the quality of life for many veterans.

The following are some of the most prevalent symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome:

  • Insomnia, frequent awakenings, or restless sleep are all symptoms of sleep problems.
  • Digestive problems such as persistent digestive discomfort, gastrointestinal problems, and so on.
  • Cognitive and memory impairment
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Joint discomfort
  • Chronic exhaustion
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Psychological anguish
  • Skin problems
  • Having trouble breathing
  • Cardiovascular issues

Burn Pit Exposure and Skin Rash

Many Gulf War veterans were exposed to burn pits, and this led to several respiratory issues. Alongside those conditions, burn pit exposure has also led to skin rash. The toxic smoke and airborne particles such as food, plastics, medical waste and munitions link to skin conditions. Pollutants damage the skin in contact, negatively affecting veterans’ health.

Here are the possible skin damage caused by burn pit exposures –

  • Drying and Abrasion: Burn pit smoke contains fine particulate matter, and these can act as abrasive agents. Therefore, when they come in contact with human skin, they can cause drying, leading to itching and redness.
  • Irritation and Inflammation: As toxic substances from burn pits come in contact with skin, they exacerbate skin conditions, making Gulf War veterans more susceptible to skin conditions such as dermatitis and rashes.
  • Chemical Exposure: Harmful chemicals present in burn pit smoke are able to puncture through the skin, leading to a range of skin disorders. 

Sand Dust and Gulf War Syndrome Skin Rash

Present in specific regions of Southwest Asia and the Persian Gulf, fine sand dust played a huge role in the Gulf War Syndrome. Gulf War veterans who served in the harsh desert climates in places like Kuwait, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and other locations in the Southwest Asia Theater of Operations were regularly exposed to fine sand dust that is less than 60 microns in size. When inhaled or in contact with skin, it can cause several health conditions. 

Here are some potential skin issues connected to sand dust –

  • Eczema: For some people, fine sand dust can trigger or worsen eczema, which is a skin disorder. Veterans with eczema suffer from itchy, dry and inflamed patches of skin. 
  • Chronic Dermatitis: Chronic dermatitis is characterized by redness, inflammation and itching of your skin. The abrasive nature of fine dust can lead to this health condition when veterans are exposed to it for a long time, which is not uncommon for those who served during the Gulf War.
  • Inflammation: For some, prolonged exposure to sand dust leads to inflammation of the skin. 

VA Disability Rating for Gulf War Syndrome Skin Rash

The rating you get for skin rash will depend on the severity of the condition. During the rating process, the VA will assess the extent of the skin affected by the rash and how it responds to therapy. To make sure you get the best possible rating, you can get help from experts at VA Disability Coach


Gulf War Syndrome can be difficult for veterans, and due to the unpredictability of the symptoms, many conditions under this criteria can be presumptive. This means that you do not have to prove a service connection to get benefits.