The hair (or sebaceous) follicle is the target organ in both oil acne (or folliculitis) and chloracne, although the two should not be confused.
- Oil acne is the result of irritation of the hair follicle by residues of mineral oil remaining on the skin as the result of poor hygiene. It tends to occur under oil-soaked working clothing on the forearms and thighs of machine tool operatives.
- Chloracne is a far more specific effect of certain poly-halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons, such as the chlorodibenzodioxins, on the sebaceous follicle. It can be a comparatively mild condition, confined to the face and neck, though severe cases also occur. There may only be small groups of open comedones (blackheads) in the cheek areas and one or two characteristic 'blind' straw-coloured cysts behind the ears.
The importance of detecting such minor occupational cases is the possibility of systemic toxicity from chloracnegens (causative agents). At present, evidence suggests that the external dose of a chloracnegen required to cause chloracne is significantly lower than that needed to cause systemic disorders (changes in circulating blood lipid levels, porphyria or any form of neoplasia/tumour).