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What are Spider veins

Updated: May 28, 2019

What Are Spider Veins?

Spider veins are a generally benign skin condition in which small, threadlike patterns of veins appear on the skin in a web like pattern (hence the name). These patterns will usually form in clusters and may appear to be red or blue.

This has nothing to do with common notion of pure and impure blood.

Spider veins are actually quite common. If you ask your friends about it, answer may be “Yes , I have it too”.

In a study, researchers found that 84 percent of adults had spider veins in their right leg alone. They are most common in areas such as the back of the knees , thigh but may form anywhere on the body.

Spider veins are often confused with varicose veins, however, unlike varicose veins spider veins are flat and spindly as opposed to being lumpy and textured. Spider veins are dilated superficial veins that are generally closer to the skin. In general spider veins are about 1 mm in diameter, and varicose veins are more than 3 mm.

How do Spider Veins Form?

Spider veins form due to increased pressure in blood vessels. As a result, blood backs up leading to these veins becoming larger and therefore more visible. Spider veins also often form in conjunction with varicose veins. Varicose veins are caused by increased pressure in larger veins; this pressure then moves to the smaller veins.

What Causes Spider Veins?

The exact cause of spider veins is unknown, however, researchers believe that it is a combination of both environmental and genetic factors.

Spider veins are generally associated with aging however they can begin forming as early as someone’s twenties depending on family history. If many in your family have spider veins it is likely that you too will develop them. Spider veins are also more common in women than in men and may form as a result of hormonal changes. Spider veins on the cheeks and nose may be caused by excessive sun exposure.


Spider veins may cause pain. This is because as spider veins are caused by increased pressure, this pressure is felt by pain receptors as spider veins are located so close to the skin where the majority of these receptors reside. Spider veins may also cause itching or a feeling of tiredness, heaviness or swelling in the legs.

Are Spider Veins Dangerous?

In the vast majority of cases, spider veins are harmless and present nothing more than a cosmetic issue. However, in some cases spider veins may be a sign of an underlying condition known as venous insufficiency. This condition can be dangerous so it’s important to discuss with your doctor if you’ve been experiencing excessive pain.


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