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August 24, 2010 at 4:00 PMComments: 1 Faves: 0

Varicose Veins vs. Spider Veins

By Helen More Blogs by This Author

There is a unique difference between varicose veins and spider veins. The difference is apparent the moment you look at either type of vein.

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are wide, and puff up out of the skin like thick purple ropes. They often crisscross down either or both legs, ending in a mass of thick gnarly veins at or near the ankle. This type of enlarged vein can also consist of only one vein, rather than many such veins. Though varicose veins started out as normal veins, they were positioned close to the surface of the skin perhaps too close. Veins that are close to the surface are called superficial veins. If and when superficial veins become enlarged, they are called varicose veins. Standing for long periods of time can put undue pressure on superficial veins, causing the blood to pool. This in turn can cause enlargement and deformity of the veins. Varicose veins can form based on hereditary issues, or because of defective valves. In other words, if your mother had varicose veins, you may also end up with varicose veins. If she had defective valves in her veins, there is even more chance that you will inherit the problem. These enlarged veins can be mildly uncomfortable to unbearably painful, and often are associated with circulatory problems. Though varicose veins can develop on any part of the body, they are most often seen on the legs. Others causes of varicose veins can include during, constant straining due to constipation, obesity, or trauma to the leg.

Spider Veins

Spider veins are thin, wispy veins on the legs or face; most often they are on the face. They can be red, blue, purple, or a combination of these colors. On the face, they can appear on the cheeks and nose of light-skinned individuals after sun exposure. For these individuals, natural sunscreen is recommended as protection against developing spider veins. Spider veins tend to trail out in a wheel-like shape, similar to that of a spider or its web, hence the name. Spider veins can itch and burn, but they are not dangerous.

Caring for Varicose and Spider Veins

Compression stockings will relieve the pain associated with both varicose veins and spider veins. Both types of veins can be removed by a trained professional, although the processes are invasive, and associated with a variety of risks. Even with removal, additional veins may continue to crop up with time. In the event varicose veins become sore, red and swollen, or hot to the touch, or if varicose veins are damaged and bleeding occurs, a physician should be contacted immediately.

Sources:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/varicose-veins/DS00256

http://www.emedicinehealth.com/varicose_veins/article_em.htm

http://www.emedicinehealth.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=11255

http://www.womenshealth.gov/faq/varicose-spider-veins.cfm

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