Written By: Emma Squillace
Spider veins may sound scary, but do you know what they are and how they can affect your legs? In some ways, spider veins are not as ‘scary’ as varicose veins because spider veins are smaller and less likely to have direct negative effects on your health. Varicose veins are larger, bulging, twisted veins. They not only cause discomfort, itching, pain, and heaviness, but they also can lead to skin ulcers, wounds that do not heal, and even dangerous blood clots or DVT (deep vein thrombosis). Spider veins, on the other hand, can be more of a cosmetic concern than a medical one. They have the potential to lead to varicose veins, but the good news is that spider veins can be treated easily in our offices.
While we talk about varicose veins the most, let’s look at some facts about spider veins from the vein experts at West Medical.
Understanding spider veins
Spider veins are caused by a backup of blood. They are more common than varicose veins, and are often found in near the ankles, calves, or thighs. They can also be found on the face. Spider veins are generally red, blue, or purple. They tend to cause fewer symptoms than varicose veins, but can itch, cause discomfort, or bleed.
The risk factors for spider veins
There’s no way to say if someone will definitely develop spider veins, but here are some risk factors you can look out for. Spider veins have been linked to:
- Your genetics – you can inherit a tendency to develop spider veins, as well as varicose veins.
- Having a BMI over 30. People with a BMI over 30 are categorized as having obesity, and this makes them more likely to develop spider veins.
- Past health conditions. Specifically, if you have had blood clots, this can mean you’re more likely to develop spider veins. A history of constipation can also make these visible veins more likely.
- The way you spend your day: if your job or lifestyle results in you sitting for long periods of time during the day, or standing for long periods of time, this can increase your likelihood of both spider and varicose veins. For instance, teachers, cashiers, nurses, truck drivers, and desk workers may be more likely to get spider veins.
- Medication, especially oral birth control pills, have been linked to a higher chance of developing spider veins.
- Your clothing – if you wear high heels or tight, restrictive clothing, this can make spider veins more likely.
- Hormone replacement therapy, or natural hormonal changes like puberty and menopause
- Sun exposure, especially if you do not use a sufficient amount of sunscreen, can increase spider veins. This is particularly common for spider veins on the nose and cheeks.
Preventing spider veins
There is nothing you can do to guarantee that you will not get spider veins. However, there are steps you can take to lower your risk of developing any type of visible vein. Your genetics are out of your control, but maintaining a healthy weight and exercise routine can help. You do not need to commit to strenuous exercise to lower your risk of developing spider veins. Taking walks or riding a bike can be good activities to increase blood flow, especially in your legs. Try to avoid high heels and restrictive clothing like a girdle or very tight jeans. If you tend to sit or stand for long periods of time, try to take regular breaks. Just a quick walk around the block after a long meeting, or lying down and elevating your legs after standing for 3 hours, can help to mitigate these risk factors for spider veins.
If you have spider veins and would like to learn about treatment options, give us a call. We have a range of minimally invasive solutions that can get rid of spider veins quickly and effectively. Our expert vein team is happy to speak with you, and can be reached at (855) 690-0565.