So, you want to join the Military but you’re worried you won’t be accepted due to your eczema.
In this article we will try to give you some clear advice and information to ease your mind or at least let you know the truth before to go to the recruitment office.
After receiving a question from one of our readers who asked: “Will My Eczema Stop Me Joining The Military?” We started to look into the reasoning for the Military either not accepting you in the first place or them discharging people who started to suffer from eczema and other skin conditions once they have joined.
No matter if you want to join the US Military or the British Army they both have strict standards and whilst you may think some of them are unfair, rules are rules and they will not be easily changed or avoided.
In researching this article we spoke to the Military recruitment office and asked them for the reasons why eczema ( Dermatitis ) could possibly be a reason for not being accepted into the Military. When we listened to their reasons, which we will go into in more detail, it started to make sense and my initial anger at hearing this soon subsided.
Dermatitis, also known as eczema, is an inflammation of the skin that results in a visible red rash and itchiness. Current or history of atopic dermatitis or eczema after the 9th birthday is disqualifying factor and could either stop you joining the military or you being kicked out of the Military. ( This information is from the US Military Website)
It’s not just eczema that can cause issues joining the military. There are loads of Skin conditions that can stop you from joining the military, even Acne is an issue.
Even if you don’t suffer now from eczema but you did when you were younger this could also stop you from joining. You must disclose any medical condition on your application otherwise you take the risk of being discharged without honors. Not something you want on your CV.
The military believes that having a skin condition can lead to poor morale and combat ineffectiveness.
Why is eczema an issue in the military?
You have to think about the equipment the Military use and the environment they are deployed into and the effects that they may have on your skin condition. No one would perform to their best if they were having a skin flare-up of any kind that I have to agree with.
Let’s have a look at some of the reasons why eczema and other skin conditions could be exasperated due to military procedures.
- Uniform & Boots– Reactions to materials and sweaty boots can cause flare-ups. Protective gear can be made of various materials and could cause reactions and inflame your skin condition.
- Camouflage– In the Military Camouflage face paint is often used and can cause a reaction
- Grass allergy– Grass allergies are amongst the commonest dermatological problems encountered in the military field due to the enviroment they are active in. Military personnel who regularly go for outfield training complaining of itch and rash appearing after contact with grass.
- Extreme environment conditions– It’s not surprising as military personnel work in some very special environments and vocations. This makes it prone to getting eczema as heat, sweating and wearing of the military uniform aggravate your condition.
- Insect Repellent– The military insect repellent contains DEET (N,N-diethyl-M-toluamide, 75% w/w) in an inert gel base. It commonly gives a hot, burning sensation when applied to the skin. An irritant contact dermatitis is most often associated with the use of such insect repellent
- Infections– Wounds, scratches and general infections whilst out on manoverers can be a magor consern.
- Allergies– Eczema and allergies go hand in hand and this would be a worry for any military medical examiner.
- Skin Care – How and when would you apply cream or medication if you were on the field or even in batlle?
All the above will be a contributing factor for the military/army medical examiners when they are reviewing your medical records or carrying out examinations.
Can I appeal my discharge or non-acceptance?
Yes, If you have not been accepted into the Military or Other Forces due to your eczema you can re-apply and submit your case to the doctors.
If you are being discharged for your eczema you can appeal and you will have to go through the medical examiner Possibly a number of times to prove that your eczema is under control and will not cause you any issues.
From a number of posts on the internet and after speaking to some soldiers who are in this position it seems to come down to a couple of things. How bad is your condition and is it worsening and secondly the Doctor you see on the day! Some are more considering and understanding of eczema and other skin conditions, some simply rule you out instantly. See the link here and read some real soldiers with this problem.
Take some simple steps before your appointment with the military examiner, like ensuring your skin is at its best on the day. Step up your skincare routine for a few days before your appointment, eat well and try not to stress before you go in to see them. The last thing you want is a flare-up on the day.
All Military Forces have the same rules and conditions for skin complaints and it’s not just the US Military, the British Army has the same rules and many other countries also. Read a recent article in The Telegraph about new recruits being turned away because they have it written on the medical records that when they were children they suffered from eczema. Even if their symptoms haven’t show for many years.
We read a story about a young man who was 21 asking to join the British Army and was refused. He has suffered from eczema when he was 5 Years old for around a year before the symptoms went away. He has been fine for the past 16 Years, and still, he was turned down. Joining the Army was his lifelong dream. The disappointment of this sent him into a deep depression and he turned to drink and his life was ruined. Terrible to read, this young man could have been an amazing soldier and an asset to his country.
Can I get an office job in the Military if I have eczema?
Unfortunately even an office job will be out of the question as anyone who is enlisted into the Military even if it’s not in a combat role still has to have the same medical clearance as anyone else. Maybe this is in case they are called into duty on the battlefield.
All military personnel are treated in the same manner and all must have the same training and fitness levels. There are no jobs in the military that you just sit and do nothing, all are fulltime military roles and as such means, you have the same capabilities as everyone else.
Even the recruitment officers have the same training and same medicals as everyone else, even though they will see very little time on the training or battle field.
As a 48 Year old man suffering from eczema, I can see both sides of this story. I think I am capable of doing anything anyone else can but I also understand that I have to take care of my skin every day to avoid flare-ups which if they hit my hard can be very debilitating and would stop me doing some things.
Most days I simply need to apply cream all over my body once or twice and I’m good for the whole day and my eczema will not stop me doing anything. Other days, I’m very sore and struggle to cope in colder conditions and get tired. If I get an infection it will dramatically drop my energy levels and my sleep patterns due to scratching are interrupted making me lethargic.
Now picture my everyday life out in the battlefield in the middle of the desert with an eczema flare-up!
Sand everywhere getting in my skin, me scratching and not paying attention. When peoples lives are at risk you can afford to have any distractions.
Same goes for in the jungle or similar environments, hot humid conditions would definitely make my condition worse and where would I cream 2 times a day? How would I stop my feet in the tough, hot boots from getting infections and sores?
PS If you’re wondering which cream I use on a daily bases then click here!
I don’t like to think of myself as any less of a man, but I am realistic and I understand my own personal eczema would prevent me from being able to keep up with other soldiers that have no medical skin conditions.
However, your eczema may not be like mine and may not need the kind of care mine does everyday. Everyone is individual and will be judged on your merits by the military medical examimer.
We wish you all the very best in your career military or other. We are a strong believer in the thought that everyone deserves a chance to fulfill their dreams, and if joining the military is yours then GO FOR IT! What have you got to lose?
Just remember to be honest with the Doctor and yourself. There’s no point lying about your condition as you will only spend the rest of your career waiting for it to bite back and catch you out and the consequences could be life-threatening and possible put people lives in danger. You don’t want that on your conscious.
Research Used and Photo Credits
No information within this article should be taken as proffessional advice. This is my own personal taking on eczema in the military and should not be taken as fact. You should always research your condtion and speak to a proffesional in this feild. Please do your own due diligence before making any medial or career change.