It is quite common for anyone, who is not a doctor, to get confused between the two types of venous disorders. The two terms are very often used together. The causes and symptoms for both spider veins and varicose veins are also too similar.
The function of blood vessels in our body is to act as one-way path for blood circulation. The veins perform the exact opposite function of arteries and carry blood from different parts of the body to the heart to prevent gravity from changing the upward flow of blood to a downward direction. If due to any reason, the blood carrying impure oxygen flows backwards or slows down even slightly through the veins, it can lead to clogging and blood congestion. This will irritate the veins and cause inflammation, propelling them to further enlarge. This results in venous disorders like spider and varicose veins that affects almost 60% Americans. If you have been freaking out about the appearance of red or purple veins, you must know the difference between spider and varicose veins, as the latter are a lot more serious.
Similarities in Spider Veins and Varicose Veins
The underlying cause of both conditions is deviation of blood in veins from its normal path leading to blood accumulation and inflammation of veins, also known as venous insufficiency syndrome.
Causes Leading to Venous Insufficiency
- Hereditary factors: If anyone in your family has suffered or is suffering from spider or varicose veins, it increases your chances to be affected by these disorders.
- Hormonal Imbalance: Any changes in the hormonal balance can also cause these venous disorders. Causes may include, pregnancy, use of contraceptive pills, puberty, hormonal injections that spike estrogen and progesterone levels may result in reverse venous flow.
- Obesity: Excess weight can also put a lot of stress on your veins.
- Occupational hazard: If your job entails you to stand for a long time and put a lot of stress on your veins, you are likely to suffer from either disorder.
- Tight clothing: Wearing extremely tight clothing like corsets can restrict muscle contraction and blood flow leading to visible abnormal appearance of the veins.
- Other causes: These include ultra-violet rays from the sun and the process of aging that leads to loose skin and muscles.
- Signs of onset of varicose or spider veins are first sighted commonly in legs due to intense pressure from carrying body weight.
- Muscle cramps
- Pulsating and tingling sensation in the legs
- Muscular fatigue
- Dark patches on the skin
- Swelling, burning, restlessness and soreness
- Wearing support stockings or pantyhose
- Weight loss
- Exercising to improve blood circulation
- Treatments available for varicose veins are sclerotherapy, laser therapy and electrodessication.
- Avoid sitting, especially with your legs crossed, or standing.
- Lie down and keep your legs straight.
- Keep your skin covered.
Spider Veins Vs. Varicose Veins
Varicose veins have a dark appearance and the inflammation of the veins is severe. The color of the veins appears to be deep blue or purple and even black in some cases. They require heavy treatment to prevent further enlargement. If venous insufficiency worsens over time, it can cause blood constriction and obstruct the flow of circulation to your heart. This can further cause blood clots, or thrombosis in veins which can spread throughout your body and become threatening by obstructing the blood flow to organs. It will start to scar your skin and muscle tissues and cause decaying or bleeding. Varicose veins cause the veins to rise above the skin surface at a great height and give a bulging appearance. Many times, they are accompanied by rashes.
However, as seen in the picture above, spider veins are lighter and the appearance of lines is thinner, like a spider’s web or tree branches. Also, they do not require treatment, usually, and fade away on their own. They generally affect legs, hands and face. If you are already affected by spider veins but not varicose veins, you need not worry about spider veins turning into varicose veins. However, since the causes of both disorders are the same, they may lead to the development of varicose veins too.
Do Spider Veins Turn into Varicose Veins?
Spider veins are identical to varicose veins but are a much milder form of the latter venous disorder. They are broken capillaries or enlarged connecting small veins visible on your skin’s surface. Unlike varicose veins, they do not protrude out of your skin and are not caused by blood clotting in veins. Hence, they will not turn into varicose veins. Even if they are left untreated, they might enlarge and become slightly bigger.
I guess, this makes us clear about the differences between spider veins and varicose veins. If you have spider veins, you can start treating them on your own at home. But, if the case is of varicose veins, you must consult your physician at the earliest. Know that a ruptured varicose vein can put you at a serious health risk. If you know anyone suffering either of the venous disorders, do educate them about it.