Condition

Spider veins

Overview

Superficial leg veins, sometimes called “spider veins” occur when tiny veins congregate below the surface of the skin, causing red, blue or purple discolorations. Spider veins get their name from the shape of the discolorations. Some cases of spider veins can be quite small. Others are more noticeable. They may make you feel self-conscious, but they are harmless, and any treatment is usually done for cosmetic reasons only.
Spider veins are found closer to the skin’s surface and are often red or blue. Spider veins occur on the legs, but can also be found on the face. They vary in size and often look like a spider’s web.

Symptoms

Spider veins are usually harmless, though they can sometimes cause aching, burning or pain, especially when you’ve been standing for long periods.

Causes

A number of factors predispose a person to varicose veins and spider veins. These include:
  • Heredity
  • Occupations that involve a lot of standing, such as nurses, hair stylists, teachers, and factory workers
  • Obesity
  • Hormonal influences of pregnancy, puberty, and menopause
  • The use of birth control pills
  • Postmenopausal hormonal replacement
  • A history of blood clots
  • Conditions that cause increased pressure in the abdomen, such as tumors, constipation, and externally worn garments like girdles.
Other reported causes include trauma or injury to the skin, previous vein surgery, and exposure to ultraviolet rays.

When to see a doctor

Spider veins are typically painless and do not cause health problems, but if you’re concerned about how they look and wish to get them treated for cosmetic reasons, see your doctor.

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