What Are Spider Veins?
Spider veins are tiny red or purple dilated blood vessels filled with stagnant blood. Although smaller than most varicose veins, spider veins are often darker and more noticeable because they are located just below the surface of the skin. Spider veins or telangiectasia are thread-like, tiny dilated, veins, usually less than 1-mm in diameter. These are located at the surface skin layers and cannot be felt. Larger veins similar in pattern to spider veins and are under 3-mm are called reticular veins.
Spider veins are more common in women, and their development may be triggered by pregnancy or hormonal variations. Spider veins may cause itching, restless legs and minor aches and pains. Non-symptomatic spider veins may be found on the face and chest, as well as the legs. Although surface veins are typically a cosmetic issue, they can also indicate more serious vein disease deep below the surface.
Factors that contribute to the development of spider veins include:
- Prolonged standing or sitting
- Blunt trauma
- Sun damage
- Hormonal factors
- Weight loss, surprisingly (It can thin the skin, making it more transparent.)
- Exposure to certain chemicals radiation
- Autoimmune disorders such as lupus
- Dull, generalized aching (especially after prolonged standing)
- Throbbing pain
- Night cramps
- Heaviness in legs
- Complaints may worsen with menstruation and warmer weather
Sclerotherapy and light treatment are the two most common and effectives ways of treating spider veins.