Spider veins are tiny varicose veins that appear as thin, squiggly lines just under the skin. They are common on the legs and the face, and most frequently affect women.
Spider veins occur when blood pools in veins near the surface of the skin. They can be caused by heredity, obesity, trauma, and fluctuations in hormone levels. In many cases, the exact cause is not known. They tend to become more numerous with age, and are common among people over 30 and in pregnant women. Menopause or birth control pills may increase the risk.
Spider veins may form a web-like pattern of red, blue or purple lines in the skin. They can also cause the skin to darken. People who have spider veins in the legs may feel a dull aching or burning sensation when they stand for prolonged periods of time. Some women may notice that their symptoms worsen during certain parts of their menstrual cycle.
Most cases of spider veins do not require treatment, but there are many options for patients with cosmetic concerns or painful symptoms. Spider veins can be treated with compression stockings, laser therapy, or sclerotherapy. Regular exercise and weight control may help prevent the development and progression of spider veins.