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Broken Capillaries: How to Get Rid of Spider Veins on the Face

Small spider veins on your face can make you feel self-conscious or make you feel concerned about your health. Broken capillaries have many causes, and treating them may depend on the root causes. If you’re concerned about popped blood vessels on your face, read on for our guide to the causes and solutions.

What are spider veins?

Busted blood vessels, also known as spider veins or telangiectasia, look like tiny red lines on the surface of your skin. Broken blood vessels on the face, which usually occur on the nose and cheeks, can create a permanently flushed appearance, although they aren't necessarily a health issue. When found on the legs, spider veins may be a clue that you have a venous disease. However, spider veins on the face aren’t generally life-threatening — they’re just something most people don’t like on their faces.

Causes of spider veins on the face

There are a few things that cause spider veins on the face. Most of them are lifestyle-related, which is good news, because changing your behavior can prevent the appearance of more spider veins and even reduce the appearance of current spider veins. However, some people have a genetic predisposition to spider veins or have a hereditary skin condition called rosacea, which presents as frequent redness of the skin due to engorged blood vessels. Rosacea has 4 subtypes: erythematotelangiectatic, papulopustular, phymatous, and ocular. Rosacea can cause perennially pink cheeks and a greater likelihood of spider veins.

Lifestyle choices that can cause spider veins include excessive sun exposure, which enlarges blood vessels and draws them closer to the skin. Be sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30+. If you live somewhere that has a climate with extreme temperatures, you’ll also have a greater likelihood of spider veins — excessive heat and excessive cold can both cause your flushed skin and burst capillaries under the skin. If you travel frequently, the extreme changes in pressure from ground to air can cause rapid dilation of the capillaries under your skin and eventual breakage of these capillaries.  

Some people have a genetic predisposition to spider veins or have a hereditary skin condition called rosacea, which presents as frequent redness of the skin due to engorged blood vessels.

Pregnant women are also more susceptible to burst blood vessels on the face, especially since the volume of blood in the body increases by an average of one pint during pregnancy. Pregnancy can cause spider veins in your face and limbs. If you notice spider veins in your limbs during pregnancy, consult your doctor, as this can lead to health issues such as blood clots in the deep or superficial veins of lower extremities. Superficial vein thrombosis is called thrombophlebitis. Symptoms can include local inflammation of the superficial veins with warm, red skin above it, a very slight increase in body temperature, or no general symptoms. Deep vein thrombosis is called phlebothrombosis. Symptoms can include asymmetric edema (swelling), cold skin, pale blue- or purple-tinted skin, and no pulse in the area. Thrombosis may lead to pulmonary embolism (PE).

Spider veins on the face and other parts of your body can also be a sign of liver disease or connective tissue diseases like scleroderma and systemic lupus erythematosus.

Chronic corticosteroid use can also promote the development of spider veins.

If you work in an environment where you’re exposed to certain chemicals or environmental pollutants, you may have spider veins, in this case due to lack of oxygen in your system. Finally, head injuries, including a concussion, can cause spider veins in the face.

Risk factors for developing broken capillaries on the face

Spider veins are usually caused by lifestyle choices. If you drink too much or you’re a fan of being outdoors in extreme weather, you’ll have more broken capillaries than people who prefer temperate climates and indoor hobbies. Using certain illegal drugs, such as cocaine, can also cause broken capillaries on the nose.

Other risk factors include genetic makeup. People of Caucasian descent stand a higher chance of developing spider veins in their faces. If your family members have a profusion of burst blood vessels, you may develop them too. Spider veins are more common as you age, partly due to the aging process itself and partly because the skin on your face becomes thinner.

Being pregnant also increases your risk factors for developing broken capillaries and spider veins as the volume of blood in your body is higher.

How to get rid of spider veins on the face

While many home remedies may minimize the appearance of spider veins, medical treatment is usually the only way to completely eliminate them. Your doctor or dermatologist can work with you to determine the best treatment for you.

Laser or intense pulsed light therapy

Laser treatment for broken capillaries uses strong, targeted laser lights to heat spider veins up and make them collapse. Laser light is intense and is pinpointed to precisely hit the damaged blood vessels without damaging the tissue surrounding them. It’s generally done in a doctor’s office or vein clinic. After each session, you’ll likely be given topical ointment to help seal the skin and aid the recovery process, so make sure you follow your doctor’s instructions for the best results.

Many people need multiple sessions to see improvement, however, which can be pricey. Lasers also damage the skin, making the recovery process a little painful and the skin sensitive. Specific risk factors include changes in skin color (hyperpigmentation) or scarring. You should remain out of the sun as much as possible during the process.

Laser treatment for broken capillaries uses strong, targeted laser lights to heat up spider veins and make them collapse.

Intense pulsed light therapy, or IPL, is similar to laser therapy in that it uses special lights to remove the spider veins. However, instead of using light focused on one wavelength, like a laser, IPL uses lights on multiple wavelengths, similar to a photo flash. The light is more scattered than a laser, which makes it suitable for people with more severe spider veins. This procedure is safe and effective, but can still cause complications like hyperpigmentation. 

This type of treatment may cause less sensitivity than laser treatment, making the recovery time shorter and causing less damage to the skin. For women with very sensitive skin, this may be a more comfortable treatment than laser therapy. IPL requires multiple sessions for full results and can also be expensive.

Topical creams

Topical creams such as retinoids are used for a variety of skin conditions, and your dermatologist may prescribe these to treat rosacea and the spider veins it causes. These creams reduce the visibility of spider veins and improve your skin’s health. However, some people experience dry skin and itchy patches where they apply the cream.

Retinoids are also used to treat acne, so if you have both acne and spider veins, this might be a good solution for you. Avoid wearing makeup during the treatment, as it can irritate your skin. And if you are acne-prone, remember not to pop your pimples or pick at your face, as this can make spider veins more pronounced. Remember that retinoids can harm fetuses and cause birth defects, so they shouldn’t be used during pregnancy or by people planning to have a baby.

Sclerotherapy

This is a more intense therapy for reducing spider veins and is usually performed in a dermatologist’s office as an outpatient procedure. It involves an injection with sclerosing agents that seal the blood vessels, causing the visible blood under the skin to disappear. These chemicals include polidocanol, sodium tetradecyl sulfate, and hypertonic saline solutions. An ultrasound may also be part of the procedure, depending on how far down in the skin the damaged blood vessels are.

The solutions cause the damaged veins to seal shut. Over time, the veins will be reabsorbed into the body, reducing the appearance of varicose veins and preventing new ones from forming. Risk factors include bruising and sensitivity, so avoid taking certain pain relief medications such as ibuprofen and aspirin to reduce the bruising effect. Certain skin lotions can also irritate your skin after sclerotherapy procedures, so check with your doctor about what products you can use afterward.

Pain and swelling around the affected areas is also common after the procedure. Other side effects include minor cramping, redness and irritation, and small bumps around injection sites. More serious side effects include an allergic reaction to the sclerosing agents, blood clots, and ulceration of the skin around where you received the injections.

Home remedies

These are a few home remedies for spider veins, but remember: it’s best to see a doctor and follow their prescribed treatment.

Apple cider vinegar is a popular treatment for spider veins. Some people use it in place of their regular toner and pat on the affected areas with a cotton ball twice daily. Witch hazel for spider veins is another home remedy, and it’s less astringent than apple cider vinegar, making it a better choice for people who have spider veins due to rosacea.

Horse chestnut is another herbal remedy for spider veins. It can be taken as a supplement for general vein therapy in general, but it may be more effective as a topical cream for spider veins.

Ways to prevent broken capillaries on the face

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to spider veins. Eliminating lifestyle habits that cause broken veins can help reduce the appearance of the ones you already have and prevent new ones from forming. Limit your consumption of alcohol, as it causes your skin to flush and develop broken veins. Excessive caffeine and spicy foods also cause the skin to flush, which can lead to broken blood vessels.

Eliminating lifestyle causes of broken veins can help reduce the appearance of the ones you already have and prevent new ones from forming.

Trauma to the skin also leads to broken capillaries. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, wear a hat and use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Pimple popping and excessive exfoliation can damage delicate facial skin, as can exposure to ultraviolet light. So use non-abrasive skin cleansers, limit your use of indoor tanning booths, and avoid popping zits to reduce your chances of developing spider veins.

The takeaway

While spider veins on your face aren’t necessarily a threat to your health, they can indicate an underlying health concern, such as rosacea, liver disease, overconsumption of alcohol, or pregnancy. Choosing the right way to get rid of spider veins on the face can involve simple home remedies or medical intervention; only your doctor can say for sure what will work best for you. Some people may find home remedies effective to diminish the appearance of spider veins, but if you feel self-conscious about yours or have an excessive amount of them, consult your doctor for appropriate medical treatment.

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321387.php

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5161029/

https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/documents/referral/retinoid-article-31-referral-updated-measures-pregnancy-prevention-during-retinoid-use_en-0.pdf

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-causes-spider-veins-on-your-cheeks-and-how-are-they-treated/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3114665/

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