Do you have tiny red and purple blood vessels spread like spider webs across the surface of your feet, legs, chest or even your face?
Whether it’s just a few in one particular spot or whole swathes of them across your body, spider veins can be an unwelcome sight that has you feeling self-conscious and worried. So how do you know when they’re spider veins or something else, and what you should do?
Tiny red and purple blood vessels spread like spider webs across the surface of your feet, legs, chest or even your face. Whether it’s just a few in one particular spot or whole swathes of them across your body, spider veins can be an unwelcome sight that has you feeling self-conscious and worried. So how do you know when they’re spider veins or something else, and what you should do?
What are spider veins?
Your body has a widespread network of blood vessels that reach every part of your anatomy. These vessels fall into three categories;
Arteries: These are the main blood vessels in your body, pumping the blood through the main parts of the body.
Veins: These vessels distribute blood from the arteries throughout the body, supplying blood to muscles and organs, keeping your body temperature consistent and oxygenating your muscles.
Capillaries: Running from the veins through to the surface of the body are your capillaries, tiny blood vessels sometimes the width of a single hair.
When the valves in the veins that feed into these capillaries become damaged, the blood pools into them, causing what is commonly known as “spider veins”. The symptoms range from cosmetic issues to discomfort (itchiness, mild burning sensations etc).
Should I be worried?
Spider veins themselves aren’t harmful and don’t pose any kind of danger to your health or wellbeing, but they are often warning signs of an underlying condition that can have an effect. Varicose veins.
When the valves in your veins don’t function properly, the blood in them doesn’t move back to the heart properly, leading it to pool in the vein. This tends to first lead to spider veins developing in the capillaries connected to the affected vein, the blood pooling in the smaller vessels before it does in the veins.
If the spider veins continue to develop, the chances of varicose veins fully forming becomes more likely, leading to more unpleasant and constant symptoms along with risk of further complications occurring. While not all spider veins lead to varicose veins, the risk is still there.
Thankfully, this means spider veins themselves aren’t dangerous or something to worry about, but are good reminders that vein health is important long-term.
Taking care of them
Taking care of spider veins is much the same as taking care of varicose veins, and can be divided into three different methods.
While you can’t completely remove the risk of spider veins, you can lower the chances of them developing as well as their potential severity. By making some simple lifestyle changes you can keep those veins in great shape. Here’s a few particularly helpful ones
- Diet: Eat more plant based foods like fruits, vegetables and leafy greens, while cutting down on trans fats and sugar.
- Exercise regularly, walking at least 20 minutes a day, swimming where possible and keeping active.
- Maintain a healthy weight and avoid extended sedentary periods. If you’re at the desk for a long time, get up and move about a little every half hour or so.
Managing current symptoms is a great way to relieve any irritation or discomfort you might be feeling. Wearing compression stockings during the day is a great way to help with any swelling or itching. If you find the veins are felling hot or burning, cool them down with some cold water or an air-conditioned room. Kicking your feet up and relaxing at the end of the day will also help the blood flow back to your heart more effectively.
While spider veins don’t require treatment, some people prefer to have them removed for cosmetic reasons. You can speak to a cosmetic surgeon or ask a vein clinic like The Vein Institute for a referral to have spider veins treated.
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