Spider Veins Explained

spider veinsMany people confuse spider veins with varicose veins however, the two are different, not least in appearance.

While varicose veins are known for their large and bulging veins, spider veins get their name from the blue or red web of small veins that appear spread across the affected area. They increase with age and this is because of poor circulation of blood through the body system.

Spider veins can appear in any part of the body but are particularly commonly found in the area behind the knee.



Causes of Spider Veins

There are many causes of spider veins that have been identified through research and laboratory tests. Some of the causes may be remotely linked but they are those which are directly associated with the appearance of colored veins on the skin surface. Among the causative factors include:

Heredity – Studies have indicated that if one parent suffers spider veins, the children have a higher risk of developing the condition. This is because spider veins has a genetic connection and can be easily passed from one generation to another through the family line.

Occupations – Where your daily job involves standing or sitting for long hours such as the case in hair stylists, factory workers, gatekeepers and others, you stand a higher chance of developing spider veins.

Obesity – Being overweight puts pressure on the veins in the lower limbs. This robs them of their elasticity and power to contract. When the vein muscles become weakened, the valves in them also lose their effectiveness in controlling backflow of blood and this can cause pooling of blood hence spider veins.

Hormonal influences – During pregnancy, expectant mothers experience increased hormonal discharge which accelerates the rate of blood flow in the body. This increased circulation overwhelms the blood vessels hence weakening them. This potentially causes spider veins.

Apart from the above causes, spider veins may come as a result of previous injuries, a history of blood clots and trauma.

Signs and Symptoms

People suffering from spider veins often complain of cramping or aching on the leg muscles. This is often accompanied by restlessness, tiredness and heaviness in the legs. This is due to the accumulated blood in the veins and the inability of the valves to prevent the backflow of blood.

varicose veins explained

The appearance of small web-like purple or blue veins close to the skin surface is among the significant signs and symptoms of spider veins. The coloration of the vessels is due to the deoxygenated blood pooled in them.

In advanced cases, sufferers of spider veins experience skin ulcers and irritation close to the veins. Because of the small nature of the veins and the weakened walls, excess pressure from the pooling blood causes them to rupture hence shallow wounds. Whenever these wounds are cited, the affected person must seek medical attention as soon as possible to avoid worsening of the situation.

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Treatment Options for Spider Veins

People suffering from spider veins are advised to seek medical attention the moment they start feeling discomfort such as itchiness, pain or when they develop skin ulcers. There are two main categories of treatment for spider veins; surgical and non-surgical procedures.

Non-Surgical Treatment

Varicose veins creams – This is the preferred solution for spider veins because it is cheaper and safe compared to conventional treatment. These creams as opposed to oral medication are more effective because they are applied directly on the affected area. The ingredients which consist of Aloe Vera, Vitamin A, E and K, Isopropyl Myristate, and Potassium Cetyl Phosphate among others soothe the skin and reverse any abnormality in the veins including weakened valves.

Compression stockings – This is a conservative approach which involves wearing of leggings and tightly fitting stockings to help fight off the painful and uncomfortable symptoms of spider veins. The stockings exert minimal pressure on the muscles hence helping them to contract and push blood back to the heart. They come in different varieties including above the knee, below the knee and in pantyhose styles.

Lifestyle changes – By watching your weight, skin hygiene, exercising and what you eat, you can reduce the risk and impact of spider veins.

Surgical Treatments

The surgical treatments which are only recommended under extreme conditions include litigation, stripping, and ambulatory phlebectomy. These involve tying off and removal of the affected veins.

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