Spider Veins: Overview, Signs & Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Spider veins refer to small, dilated blood vessels that develop around the face, nose, and chin. Spider veins also develop on the legs, especially on the upper thigh, below the knee joints, and around the ankles. The blood vessels twist and turn, causing red, purple, and blue patchwork of discoloration on the skin. This condition is caused by excessive pressure in the veins. Although spider veins do not pose a serious risk to the health, the discoloration on the skin could be bothersome or downright embarrassing for some patients. This condition is treatable.

Signs and Symptoms of Spider Veins

The most common signs and symptoms of spider veins are visible veins that are blue or purple in color, an aching spot in the leg and swelling of the lower legs. The pain could get worse after sitting or standing up for too long. Itchiness around the veins, throbbing and cramping muscles could be a sign of spider veins too.

Causes of Spider Veins


Age is one of the most common causes of spider veins. As we age, the veins start losing their elasticity. And when they do, the veins are no longer able to stretch so the valves become weaker. When the valves are weaker, the blood flow is disrupted, sometimes flowing backward to the heart.  When this happens, deoxygenated blood start collecting in certain branches of the veins, causing an enlarged vein. The veins become painful and engorged.


Some pregnant women develop spider veins because of the increased volume of blood in the body. Unfortunately, pregnancy also causes decreased flow of blood to the pelvis area because of the developing fetus. And when this happens, the veins in the legs start to enlarge. In some cases, varicose veins worsen late in the pregnancy. This is due to the larger fetus that puts intense pressure on the leg veins.

Other factors that increase your risk of developing spider veins are genetics, gender, obesity, and standing or sitting for prolonged periods.

Effective Treatments for Spider Veins


This procedure involves a shot of solution directly into the spider vein to collapse the vein and stop blood flow. After the injection, the vein will turn into a scar and gradually fade within weeks.

Laser Treatment

This non-invasive treatment is best for treating fine, reddish spider veins. Laser light is beamed directly on the targeted area to heat up and collapse the vein. Once destroyed, the vein will turn into a scar, fading gradually within weeks.

How to Prevent Spider Veins

To lower your risk of developing spider veins, always stretch your legs after standing up or sitting down for too long. Stretching the legs alleviate pressure in the leg veins. You want to keep the blood flowing by working out, wearing support garments, and elevating your legs for several minutes. Running, jogging, walking, and lunges are great moves to reduce the development of spider veins.

If you want to make existing spider veins less noticeable, slather sunscreen on the targeted area. Lightening the skin tone makes the discoloration less noticeable.

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