View Full Version : Dealing with acne in the field

02-05-2009, 09:53
I'm assuming with all the experience on this site there's been some with soldiers and acne in the field. I'm just curious how you deal with this when on assignment.

I suffered from pretty bad back and chest acne when I was younger. I took acutane, and that cleared it up good. I have some nice scars left, keloids. They look pretty awful but cause me no trouble. However, I'm pretty sure if I was to go on a field training exercise, rucking all day long and not wash or change shirts for a few weeks, I'd have some trouble.

I saw a photo of a soldier in vietnam with "tropical cystic acne," and it looked pretty bad. The article said that this particular soldier was excused having to carry a ruck. Not really an option for an 18E soldier (EDIT: or any other for that matter).

I know hygiene is important when on operation. I'm just curious how you guys have dealt with acne, and if you've had to when on operations.

Thanks for reading.

Blitzzz (RIP)
02-05-2009, 11:36
Don't look in a mirror and drive on. Acne? Don't twist or break any thing. Blitzzz

02-05-2009, 11:49
Rule 1: Don't squeeze
Rule 2: Keep your medic informed and allow him to treat any secondary infection.
Rule 3: Ugly is scarey to the enemy

Acne is (generally) a consmetic problem, and usually the least of your combat worries unless it physically debilitates you in the performance of your mission. Most folks find that their body flora adjusts to their environment after a week or so without showering and constant exposure to their surroundings. It's amazing how well your skin can "take care of itself" without the daily onslaught of anti-bacterial soaps, perfumes, detergents, etc.


02-05-2009, 12:25
Are you wearing kit that is rubbing your bacne raw? See the doc and ask if he thinks it's bad enough to go on some doxy. Also good for the malaria and a tan. ;)

02-05-2009, 14:26
1st keep your medical people aware of your prior history and ask questions. They are your immediate resource..

This is so 40 yr old info,, but it still is good.

I have very oily hide and had acne as a kid,, not to your extent,, but bad.

In Viet Nam we were on patrol for 3 weeks,, foot patrol, all jungle, no villages, no streams, 3 corp highlands.

We received resupply every three days, water, ammo, food, and ONE(1) clean uniform, THREE(3) pair of clean socks, ONE(1) small hand towel. Maybe if we were lucky US MIAL..

A chopper would show up at X, drop a couple pallets and leave.

If there was water delivered that no one wanted we tried to wash. We also used bomb creators that had water in,, but they were few and far between..

Sweat was the only available way to clean your skin,, open those pores and let them flow...

I found that drinking as much water as possible allowed me to literally sweat myself clean,, it worked.

You still had to watch for monkey butt and chafing between your thighs, scratches from flora & fauna,, but if you drank enough you didn't stink to much and we didn't have problems with infections.

It's not easy,, the weight is a bitch. If I remember, I had two 5qt bags, one 2qt canteen, and we usually received 6 cans of beer/soda per resupply.

We were lucky(??), it stayed hot all year long, and in the summer it rained every day (free shower).

I had a platoon of 35 grunts from all walks. 5- 6 were country boys and were happy in the woods. In five months, we only had one non-enemy med-vac, My 2nd point walked into a wasps nest and was stung on the neck by his aortic artery and drop like a rock, from anaphylactic shock. He survived.

As you progress thru your education, you will be "on patrol" a bunch of times, in cold weather, hot weather, and wet weather. You will be tested and have the liberty of medical aide to look after you..

How will you fair,, you'll find out when it happens...

Don't let the small shit bother you..

Good Luck..

Red Flag 1
02-05-2009, 15:40

My first thought about "acne in the field", was to dismiss the issue and say that," if you have acne, how did you get in the field"? Not a valid inital observation on my part. I do think this is a good question, IMHO .

The real question here, IMMHO, is how to deal with any facial lesion. Acne presents as a pimple, or white head. It is very tempting to "pop" the lesion. The reality is that one is only dealing with the tip of the iceberg, if you will. The bulk of facial lesions, acne or otherwise, lies well beneath the skin surface. Popping the lesion generally pushes the bulk of the lesion, and infection, deeper. That having been said, there is a greater issue here.

The venous drainage of the face, in part, drain thru a vein that passes through the base of the brain. It is possible to drive bacteria/infection into the venous drainge that passes through the brain. Brain abcesses and other septic events are possible.

Follow the advice of Eagle5US, and JJ!!!

RF 1

02-05-2009, 16:10
Be aware....it may not be acne. Check with locals on skin diseases that are seen, monitor for changes, new areas of the body with an outbreak.....
take this for what it is: a potential skin lesion/dz that may have nothing to do with acne.
Review the CDC website and others for cutaneous manifestations of chemical/biological contacts....you see where this is going.


02-05-2009, 22:13
It's amazing how well your skin can "take care of itself" without the daily onslaught of anti-bacterial soaps, perfumes, detergents, etc.

EagleI quit using all of that shit and subsequently, I stopped getting all kinds of peripheral cooties.:cool:

Stay safe.

06-02-2009, 09:01
Here's an article some may find interesting.


This is what has me doubting a future in the field. For example, I have a zit, a pretty damn large one on my shoulder right now. It has no head and is currently receding. However, I believe if i was to have not showered or changed shirts and worn body armour, webbing, a pack etc. for the last few weeks...... not only would it be looking like a small volcano inviting all manors of infection, but, I would have many more.

This is a hard reality to face. My plan is to go talk to a dermatologist and get his take, then maybe consider disclosing this information to a recruiter. My reluctance to go talk to a recruiter first is through fear of, "Oh acne? Buddy don't worry about that shit," get to MEPs and be faced with a choice of jobs I don't want or D/Q. We'll see.