The significance of veins in the human body cannot be stressed enough. From tiny to large blood vessels that support circulation, they are one of the most important parts of the cardiovascular system serving the function to bring deoxygenated blood back to the heart.
Two forms of a medical condition when prominent clusters of damaged blood vessels appear on the skin’s surface are spider veins and varicose veins. While both ailments appear quite similar, they have different symptoms and peculiarities. Spider veins, also known as telangiectasias or thread veins, are red, blue, or purplish lines that are minuscule but slightly raised. Primarily, these spiderly-looking veins start to show up due to damaged valves bulging from inside of the legs giving an arachnoid appearance. Most patients do not have any significant medical symptoms that need immediate attention, but they can cause discomfort and if left untreated, can lead to potential health hazards or functional impairment. In severe cases, when they appear on the face, they can bring psychological issues, particularly in females who are more conscious of their looks.
Difference Between Varicose Veins And Spider Veins
Spider veins and varicose veins are different in their appearance, size, and many other attributes. While both progress to a point where they are visible beneath the skin, spider veins tend to be smaller than varicose veins. Varicose veins are larger and deeper than spider veins. With a web-like appearance, spider veins usually do not cause any medical complications, while varicose veins lead to serious health issues. Varicose veins are often on the thighs, calves, near the ankles, and sometimes around the inner thigh and buttocks. Spider veins are found closer to the skin's surface and appear on the legs or the face like spider webs. Varicose veins are raised, swollen clusters of blood vessels that twist beneath the skin. Spider veins are smaller, multi-colored that appear slightly twisted. Spider veins can usually be seen under the skin, but they do not make the skin bulge out as varicose veins do. Varicose veins can be very painful, while spider veins typically don't hurt.
Why Does Body Develop Spider Veins?
Factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing spider veins include:
Genetics: Most of the people with spider veins have a family history of them. If the parents in the family suffer from this problem, child’s chances of developing spider veins increase manifold.
Pregnancy:An increase in blood flow besides extra weight on veins during pregnancy or due to hormonal changes in pre-natal phases may cause spider veins.
Sedentary Lifestyle:Sitting or standing for long periods restricts blood flow and can lead to the pooling of blood. Since veins in the legs must work harder to pump the blood upwards, it may lead to the growth of spider veins.
Gender:Females above forty years and older tend to get affected by spider veins almost twice as much as males.
Age:As we age, the valves in veins become weaker. The calf muscles, which provide support to our veins get feeble thus causing spider veins to emerge.
Birth control and hormonal treatments for menopause may increase the risk of spider veins. This happens due to the weakening of valves because of the higher estrogen presence in them.
Symptoms Of Spider Veins
Some of the common symptoms of spider veins include:
- Throbbing pain
- Itching around veins
- Severe pain in legs when being sedentary for long hours
Physicians perform a physical exam and look for symptoms besides taking a medical history to confirm the diagnosis of spider veins. The following tests are done to rule out other causes of this ailment:
This is done to check the blood flow in your veins and look for weakened or leaky valves and possible blood clots.
A venogram is a type of X-Ray that uses a dye to take a closer look at the veins. Primarily used in heart-related ailments, doctors typically rely on this test if they suspect the presence of a blood clot.
Spider veins are generally asymptomatic, and most patients seek treatment to reduce or remove them for cosmetic purposes. Treatment options for this otherwise harmless disease include Laser treatments, Sclerotherapy-Salt solution is injected into the area to close off the veins and Thermocoagulation-when heat therapy is done to destroy certain unwanted tissues. Prescription compression stockings are also an alternate to get relief, but they should be worn after consulting a physician.
Managing Spider Veins
While certain causative factors cause the development of spider veins, it is possible to lower the risk of developing them and alleviate the symptoms. Lifestyle changes that can be beneficial to reduce the chances of this problem are:
Exercise: Even something as simple as walking can improve vein health and promote a super healthy blood flow.
Diet: By eating low sodium, fibrous, and less processed food, veins become healthy.
Avoid Being Sedentary: Do not sit or stand for too long. Switch up positions or take a quick walk to stay fit.
Elevate Legs: Raising legs above the heart aids veins in circulating blood by alleviating stress on the venous system.
Wear Compression Stockings: To support blood flow and decrease pressure inside the veins, this can be extremely helpful.