Varicose veins and spider veins

Varicose veins and spider veins

Varicose veins are enlarged veins that can be blue, red, or flesh-colored. They often look like cords and appear twisted and bulging. Spider veins are like varicose veins, but smaller. Varicose veins and spider veins usually appear in the legs and can cause pain, swelling, or an itchy rash. Varicose veins and spider veins are treatable.

What are varicose veins?

Varicose (VAR-i-kos) veins are enlarged veins that can be blue, red, or flesh-colored. They often look like cords and appear twisted and bulging. They can be swollen and raised above the surface of the skin. Varicose veins are often found on the thighs, backs of the calves, or the inside of the leg. During pregnancy, varicose veins can form around the vagina and buttocks.

Spider veins are like varicose veins but smaller. They also are closer to the surface of the skin than varicose veins. Often, they are red or blue. They can look like tree branches or spiderwebs with their short, jagged lines. They can be found on the legs and face and can cover either a very small or very large area of skin.

What causes varicose veins and spider veins?

Varicose veins can be caused by weak or damaged valves in the veins. The heart pumps blood filled with oxygen and nutrients to the whole body through the arteries. Veins then carry the blood from the body back to the heart. As your leg muscles squeeze, they push blood back to the heart from your lower body against the flow of gravity. Veins have valves that act as one-way flaps to prevent blood from flowing backwards as it moves up your legs. If the valves become weak, blood can leak back into the veins and collect there. (This problem is called venous insufficiency.) When backed-up blood makes the veins bigger, they can become varicose.

Spider veins can be caused by the backup of blood. They can also be caused by hormone changes, exposure to the sun, and injuries.

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Shared from womenshealth.gov

 

2017-09-15T12:38:33+00:00

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