Spider veins are enlarged veins or capillaries that lie close to the surface of the skin. Several factors can be associated with the development of spider veins, some of which are discussed in this article.
Spider veins appear as very thin thread-like veins of red, blue, or purple color, that spread like a web or net, just like a spider web. This is the reason they are called ‘spider veins’. The actual medical term for this condition is telangiectasias, but they are commonly known as broken capillaries. Spider veins are a bit similar to varicose veins. In fact, they are often considered a mild variation of the varicose veins.
However, unlike varicose veins, they do not cause pain and significant swelling. But for many people, telangiectasias are a cosmetic concern. The places that are more commonly affected by this condition are the face, legs, and the feet. However, they can develop on other parts of the body as well. They usually result from the gradual weakening of the blood vessels or the capillaries.
They can develop due to the interplay of several factors; the most common predisposing factor being the progressive weakening of the blood vessels due to aging. As we age, the blood vessels or capillaries lose their elasticity, and the valves weaken. The valves present in our legs maintain the flow of blood from the legs to the heart, and prevent its back flow. But, when they become weak or fail to function normally, a small amount of blood can pool inside the veins due to the force of gravity. This causes the veins to enlarge and become distinctly visible.
This condition can be aggravated by several other factors, of which the most important factors are, excessive body weight, pregnancy, and standing or sitting in a single position for a long time. Excess body weight can put more pressure on the legs, which can cause the appearance of spider veins. During pregnancy, the volume of blood in the body increases, which causes the dilation of the veins. This in turn, affects the functioning of the valves present in the veins. Moreover, the growing fetus can put more pressure on the veins, and the pregnancy hormones can weaken the vein wall. All these factors can cause the development of telangiectasias and varicose veins during pregnancy.
Apart from these, certain other factors can also affect the development of telangiectasias. Some such possible risk factors are leg injury, sun exposure (especially for people with fair skin), poor blood circulation, use of birth control pills, exposure to cold, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption. It can also be a hereditary condition for some people. Telangiectasias and varicose veins are more prevalent in women than men.
Spider veins usually do not cause any health problems. But still, many people want to get rid of them due to cosmetic reasons. The main treatment options available for this condition are sclerotherapy and laser therapy. In sclerotherapy, a chemical is injected into the veins, in order to harden and close them off. The chemical causes the veins to shrink, and the blood inside the veins to clot. Over a period of time, the body absorbs such blood vessels and thus, they disappear. The laser therapy on the other hand, employs laser beams to close-off the spider veins, and make them disappear gradually.
You can also apply creams and ointments containing vitamin K, C and E, and use compression stockings, in order to reduce the appearance of spider veins. Compression stockings can help maintain the normal flow of blood through the veins. In addition to these, it is equally important to maintain an ideal body weight and exercise regularly, which can improve the circulation of blood in your legs and throughout the body. Exercises like walking and swimming can be of immense help in this regard.
Telangiectasias can also be treated and prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes a well-balanced diet, along with regular physical activities. Individuals with spider and varicose veins should also restrict their salt or sodium intake, avoid standing or sitting for a prolonged period of time, elevate their legs after sitting or standing for a long time, and include food rich in vitamin C and K in their diet.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.