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Broken Capillaries or “Spider Veins” Explained


You know the routine: wake up and plant yourself in front of your magnifying beauty mirror and inspect your face for that day’s list of skin issues to address. The list includes the black-head watch, pore inspection, check for any brewing lumps and bumps and the good ol’ any-unwanted- eyebrow-hairs examination. And there you spot it: spider veins. Ugh

You quickly Google what to do about it but before you head down the problematic dark hole of self-diagnosis, don’t worry – we got you. Broken capillaries are common and can be treated. But what caused the flare up in the first place?

What Causes Broken Capillaries on the face?

Spider veins are broken blood vessels that are dilated or enlarged just under the surface of the skin. They are also medically known as telangiectasias. These broken blood vessels result in a red, web-like appearance, giving them the nickname “spider veins”. They can occur anywhere on the body but spider veins on face or legs are most common. But good news – it is treatable! The trick is to understand what exactly is causing your flare-up.

There are a number of reasons why you make be experiencing the pesky little broken blood vessel:

  • Genetics: Those who have family members that get broken capillaries are most likely to experience them too.
  • Pregnancy: Skin changes often occur during pregnancy due to all of the hormonal changes which may also cause broken blood vessels. These pregnancy-related spider veins typically disappear after giving birth.
  • Sun damage: Constant sun exposure can enlarge the blood vessels and draw them closer to the surface of your skin. If you happen to get a sunburn, the top layer of your skin may peel which may temporarily make some of the broken blood vessels on your face more noticeable.
  • Weather changes: Drastic changes in the weather causing hot temperatures increase blood vessel dilation. The more dilated they are, the more like the blood vessels may burst, causing a spider vein.
  • Changes in pressure: Sudden, extreme changes in pressure within the body may cause a spider vein on face. For example, a really powerful sneeze or vomiting may cause this change in pressure.
  • Alcohol consumption: Have you ever looked at your skin the morning after a night of drinking and it’s very blotchy? Alcohol may temporarily dilate and enlarge blood vessels. Frequent alcohol consumption may eventually  lead to persistent spider veins and redness on the face.
  • Environmental irritants: Skin exposure to environmental pollutants and chemicals may damage the skin and make blood vessels appear more visible.
  • Rosacea: This common skin condition causes your skin to easily become flushed and inflamed. People who have rosacea often experience visible broken blood vessels as a symptom.
  • Injuries: If you experience a bruise to the face, broken blood vessels may appear. The blood vessels will heal as your bruise heals.


How Do You Get Rid of Broken Capillaries?

There are some simple habits you can keep in mind to prevent broken blood vessels.  If you are already experiencing them, then there are at home treatments you can try to remedy them.

For more serious or persistent spider veins, there are treatments prescribed by a doctor available as well.

  • Limit the sun exposure: the more you can protect your skin from the sun’s harsh UV rays, the less likely you are to get spider veins. Wear SPF everyday, don’t leave the house without a hat, and try to seek shade wherever possible.
  • Avoid drastic weather changes: drastic changes in heat from steam rooms, saunas, and hot yoga studios for example can dilate blood vessels and make them more prone to break
  • Moderate alcohol consumption:  limit your alcohol intake to not only avoid spider veins but to also maintain a healthy lifestyle. By consuming alcohol in moderation, you also reduce the risk of binge drinking which may lead to changes in pressure (vomiting) which may directly cause spider veins as well.
  • Avoid picking your skin: remember when we talked about sudden changes in pressure? If you’re experiencing acne and are just itching to pick that pimple, stop it right there! When trying to extract a pimple, you may break blood vessels in the process from pressing the skin too aggressively
Home remedies
  • Anti-inflammatory products: when it comes to treating broken capillaries at home, gentle is key. You’ll want to use products with natural anti-inflammatory agents, for example, rosewater, aloe vera, and chamomile. They are gentle on the skin and effective at maintaining a flare-up.
  • Keep cool by drinking cold water: Sudden changes in heat can dilate blood vessels and cause spider veins. Anytime you’re exposed to heat or sudden changes in temperature, like traveling to a tropical destination or working up a sweat in the gym, make sure to drink cold water.
  • Washing your face with lukewarm water: this also applies to the water you use to wash your face. Washing your face with hot water will speed up blood flow which will increase redness in the skin and increase the chance of dilating blood vessels.
  • Refrigerate your snacks, I mean, serums: mini refrigerators for your skin care products are starting to become very common and for good measure. By keeping your skin products cool, it extends the shelf life of your products. The cool temperature of the products can also act as an anti-inflammatory and calm skin.
  • Consult a doctor: if you’re noticing your skin being hyper sensitive and broken blood vessels flaring up very often with little trigger, or you’re experience persistent redness, these may be symptoms of rosacea. Pay attention to your skin and seek help from a doctor. If left untreated, rosacea can worsen and impact your quality of life.
  • Always, always, moisturize: this is one step to never skip, no matter what skin concern you have. Dry skin is easily irritated. By moisturizing, you’re locking in all the good stuff and keeping out the environmental pollutants and damage caused by free radicals.
  • Vitamin C: using a vitamin C serum is highly beneficial for people experience spider veins because it is an active ingredient that helps strengthen capillaries and calms skin.
Medical treatments

If natural remedies aren’t doing the trick, then seeing a doctor will guide you to the right course of treatment for your broken capillaries. These procedures should only be prescribed and executed by a doctor.

  • Laser therapy: laser treatments use penetrating lights targeting the infected area to fade the spider veins by destroying the broken vein.
  • Intense pulsed light (IPL):  This treatment is similar to laser therapy, but the light penetrates down to the second layer of skin without effecting or harming the top layer.
  • Sclerotherapy:  This is an injection based procedure where a doctor injects a solution of sclerosing agents into broken blood vessels that causes them to close, which then causes the visible blood just under the skin to disappear.
  • Thermocoagulation: this treatment is a radio-frequency energy technique that is based on the production of high frequency waves, 4 ΜΗz, that is transmitted through a thin needle, causing thermal damage in the vein.

How Long Do Broken Capillaries Take to Heal?

Spider veins are usually a temporary skin inconvenience that can be prevented or treated at home. Spider veins will usually heal within 1-2 months but this is also dependent on if you’re actively getting medical treatment for them or not. If you do notice they are persistent and other symptoms present themselves, it is important to consult a doctor as it may be an underlying medical issue.

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