In the human body, veins carry blood from the organs to the heart. Sometimes, the blood accumulates in the veins. In such cases, the walls of the veins expand, thereby causing bulging. Such bulged veins can be either the big ones or small, superficial ones. The bigger ones can be seen distinctly and can also be felt, when touched. The smaller ones are often seen as a network of thin blue, red, or purple-colored threads. While the bigger, bulging veins are called varicose veins, the thinner ones are called spider veins. Spider veins are formed as a result of blood pooling in the thin, superficial veins.
What are Spider Veins?
This condition is often viewed as a milder version of varicose veins. While varicose veins is a comparatively serious condition that can cause some severe symptoms, spider veins are mostly associated with milder symptoms. Usually, spider veins do not cause any symptom, but some of the affected people may experience pain, leg cramps and itching. However, treatment is sought by those, who take it as a cosmetic concern. Both varicose veins and spider veins are normally visible, but the former are larger with a diameter of around 4 mm, whereas the latter has a maximum girth 2 mm only.
Spider veins are usually found as a network of small, thread-like veins that form a webbing. This condition is also known as spider telangiectasia, spider angioma, sunburst varicosities, broken capillaries, and thread veins. This is mostly found in adults, especially women. The most common areas that develop spider veins are the face; and legs, especially the upper thighs and around the ankles.
The exact cause for spider veins is still not understood fully. It is said that, accumulation of blood in the veins cause bulging. This could be due to faulty valves in the veins or due to weakness of the walls of these blood vessels. In some people, obstruction in the veins (like blood clots) and swelling of veins (phlebitis), may lead to this condition. Increased pressure in the veins is cited as another reason. Even congenital abnormalities of the veins can cause spider veins. There are various conditions that can predispose a person to the condition called spider veins.
In general, spider veins are often found in elderly people. The condition can be hereditary in some people. Hormonal changes in women, predispose the fair sex to this condition. Such hormonal changes may occur during pregnancy, puberty or menopause. Use of birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy are among those factors that are associated with spider veins. Other such factors include obesity and standing for very long durations. Even regular sun exposure and alcohol consumption are linked to spider veins.
Causes for spider veins on the face include rosacea, that can be triggered by various factors like, use of alcohol, spicy foods and exposure to sunlight. Other causes include long term use of steroid creams and outdoor work for a prolonged period. Causes for spider veins on the legs include obesity, standing for longer periods, pregnancy, and leg injury. In some people, the condition may develop on the chest, due to chest bruises, chronic cough and cirrhosis of the liver.
This condition is usually treated with laser treatment or sclerotherapy. Though it is harmless, the condition may cause pain in some people. In such cases, treatment can be availed.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.