Spider veins also known as telangiectasia is a condition in which the widened venules (these are tiny blood vessels) cause threadlike red lines or patterns on the skin.
These patterns are forming gradually and often they are in clusters. They are known as spider veins because they have web-like appearance.
They are very common in the areas that are easily seen, such as cheeks, fingers, eyes, nose and lips. They can lead to discomfort and some people can find them unattractive. There are many people who are removing spider veins.
This removal is done by causing damage to the vessels and forcing them to scar or collapse. This is reducing the appearance of red marks or patterns on the skin.
They are usually benign but there are some cases when they can be a sign of serious illness. The HHT (hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia) is a rare genetic condition which is causing spider veins that can be life threatening.
Those spider veins which are caused by HHT are not forming on the skin. They are forming in vital organs, such as the liver. They can burst which is causing massive bleeding (known as hemorrhages).
Symptoms of spider veins
The spider veins can be uncomfortable. Generally, they are not life threatening but some people feel embarrassed from their appearance.
Usually, they develop gradually but they can be worsened by beauty and health products which can cause skin irritation, such as sponges and abrasive soaps. Here are some symptoms of spider veins:
- Threadlike red marks or patterns on the skin
- Pain (related to pressure on veins)
Here are the symptoms of HHT:
- Port – wine stain birthmark
- Small strokes
- Shortness of breath
- Red or dark black blood in stools
- Frequent nosebleeds
If you have some of the symptoms of spider veins, then you should visit your doctor. Your doctor will give you the proper treatment.
The treatment can help to improve the appearance of your skin. Those people who have some treatment can expect having normal life again after this treatment has finished.
Causes of spider veins
The exact cause for this condition is not known. There are some studies in which are shown that several causes can lead to the development of spider veins.
These causes can be environmental or genetic or a combination of the both factors. It is thought that the most cases of spider veins are caused by chronic exposure to the sun or extreme temperature.
This is happening because they are appearing on the body where the skin is exposed to air and sunlight. Also there can be other possible causes of spider veins, such as
- Systemic lupus erythematosus: This condition can increase the skin sensitivity to sunlight and extreme temperatures.
- Dermatomyositits: This condition inflames the skin and underlying muscle tissue.
- Scleroderma: This condition hardens and contracts the skin.
- Habitual corticosteroid use: This will thin and weaken the skin.
- Rosacea: This condition enlarges the venules in your face which is creating a flushed appearance in the cheeks and nose.
- Aging: The aging process includes aging of blood vessels which is a reason why they begin to weaken.
- Pregnancy: It is known that the pregnancy in many cases puts a large amount of pressure on venules.
- Alcoholism: It is known that the alcoholism can affect the blood flow in the vessels and this could lead to liver disease.
The causes for the HHT are genetic. Those people who have HHT have inherited this condition from at least one parent. It is suspected that 5 genes can cause HHT but 3 of them are known.
Those people who have HHT have received one normal gene and one or 2 mutated genes. It is enough to have only on mutated gene to cause HHT.
Risk factors of spider veins
It is a very common skin disorder, even among healthy people. But there are some factors which are increasing the risk of spider veins, such as
- Use corticosteroids
- Have rosacea, scleroderma, dermatomyositis or SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus)
- Are older or elderly (spider veins are more common to happen as skin ages)
- Are pregnant
- Misuse alcohol
- Sit or stand all day
- Work outdoors