We all live in a society where health and beauty often goes hand in hand. Even the smallest skin imperfections can have damaging effects on our overall personal appearance. Spider veins are referred to as such due to its appearance of having a central red dot with fine, red “legs” emanating from the center giving its spider-like appearance. It is usually found on the face, chest, back and legs. These are very superficial blood vessels whose walls have become dilated making them visible on the skin.
[box type="info"]Spider veins vs. Varicose veins, what’s the difference? To start with, please don’t confuse varicose veins with “very close veins” which sounds the same, but bears no other resemblance nor has any particular meaning. Spider veins are also known in medical parlance as “telangiectasias.” Typically, they result from venous hypertension in larger varicose veins underneath. In both cases, spider veins and varicose veins are superficial veins that have dilated in response to increased pressure.[/box]
The most common site for spider veins is the legs. To understand why they appear, we have to realize that the venous system is a one-way system which basically transfers blood back to our hearts. It is a system that uses a series of valves for transporting blood. Any increase in pressure makes it harder for blood to flow back. Prolonged and constant high pressures give rise to spider veins and in worst cases, varicose veins. The legs are the most common area where pressure builds up. These are the farthest areas from where blood is transported back to the heart.
1. Ultraviolet Light Exposure. Excessive exposure to the sun over time causes skin damage. Common signs of sun damage include brown spots and red spots which can actually be spider veins.
2. Hormonal Factors. Some medications and hormones such as topical or steroids and pills can cause spider veins. Abnormal changes in estrogen and progesterone levels increase the risk for developing spider veins.
3. Pregnancy. Increased pressure in the abdominal area impedes normal blood flow. Another reason why spider veins appear in pregnant women is due to the high volume of blood circulating in their body. This makes the valves pump harder, hence the appearance of spider veins especially on the leg area.
4. Obesity. Similar to pregnancy, people who are overweight place more pressure on the veins. Fat buildup in the veins also impedes the normal flow of blood to the heart.
5. Genetics. Studies have shown that people with a family history of spider veins increases the chance for incurring spider veins as they grow old.
6. Aging. Age has a direct effect on the development of spider veins. This is because valves grow weak as we grow older.
7. Prolonged standing/ sitting. The contraction of our leg muscles aid in the pumping action of our veins. Lack of movement increases the workload the valves in our veins.