Spider, Thread Veins – A Guide
Thread veins, also known as spider veins, are small veins which can appear on your face, thighs or calves. They are a cosmetic issue rather than a medical problem.
People who suffer from the spider veins often feel that they affect their appearance and confidence. Our simple guide provides advice on treatment for thread veins, and how compression hosiery can benefit the appearance of them on your legs and calves
What are Thread Veins and Spider Veins?
Many people refer to thread veins as spider veins but their correct medical term is telangiectasia varicose veins. Thread veins or spider veins are thin and red irregular lines just below the surface of your skin. They most commonly affect your face, particularly the cheeks and nose . Thread veins or spider veins can also appear on your calves and thighs.
While not connected with any serious medical problem they can cause leg aches, some pain and restlessness, particularly at night. For many people, thread veins or spider veins can lead to worries about body image and self-esteem.
How to prevent Thread Veins and Spider Veins
While thread veins that do not cause pain and restless legs do not need treatment, some people prefer to receive treatment for thread veins because they consider them unsightly. Obvious thread veins on the thighs can prevent you sunbathing on holiday in a crowded resort, for example, or going swimming in your local pool.
Spider vein treatment can be very effective. The use of a laser is combined with sclerotherapy – to injecting substances into the thread veins to cause them to shrivel and disappear over time.
Most dermatologists who carry out this type of treatment recommend that you wear compression stockings for around 14 days after your thread vein removal sessions to make sure each has the maximum benefit. Recent research has shown that people with telangiectasia and problems in their reticular veins also experience relief from leg aches, painful cramping and restlessness if they wear compression garments.
What causes Thread Veins and Spider Veins?
Thread veins or spider veins can appear for many different reasons, the most common causes of spider veins include:
- Getting older: the risk of having thread veins increases with age, although even young adults can be affected
- Genetics: if thread veins tend to run in your family, you are more likely to have them too
- Smoking and alcohol: smoking and drinking to excess can lead to problems with poor circulation, often leading to thread veins or spider veins
- Weight: the extra pressure of being overweight also contributes to poor circulation in the skin, with thread veins a frequent outcome
- Pregnancy: pregnant women often find that they develop thread veins. The hormone oestrogen relaxes blood vessel walls and this can cause spider veins to appear. Some people believe that taking the contraceptive pill may increase the risk of spider veins, but there is no conclusive evidence for this
Top tips to prevent Thread Veins and Spider Veins
There are a number of actions you might take if you are concerned about thread veins or spider veins. You can help prevent new thread veins forming by:
- Avoiding spicy food and sudden changes in temperature such as hot baths
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
- Wearing light compression stockings, particularly if your legs ache – people with a lot of thread veins often have varicose veins and compression tights or compression stockings can help relieve the aching
- Having dermatological treatment for thread veins and spider veins – if you do, be sure follow the aftercare instructions carefully, wearing your compression hosiery as directed