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Spider veins are tiny, thin veins that vary in color and that you can see just under the surface of your skin. They’re so named because they remind us of spider webs, and are also sometimes described as looking like marble.

Spider veins can be blue, purple, or red. They may appear in the form of thin lines, webs, or branches. People sometimes also refer to them as thread veins. Typically, they are not painful or harmful, but some people may wish to treat them for cosmetic reasons.

A range of treatment options can remove spider veins or reduce their appearance.

This article discusses the causes of spider veins, also known as telangiectasias, and how they differ from varicose veins. We also cover the treatment and prevention of spider veins.


Malfunctioning valves in feeder veins are the underlying cause.

Spider veins in the leg, hand, and face are caused by unhealthy valves inside feeder veins, allowing blood to flow backwards instead of upwards toward the heart. Some of this backed-up blood can lead to non-functional, “dead end” veins that appear underneath the surface of the skin as spider veins.

Risk factors

Factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing spider veins include:


Lifestyle changes to improve your spider veins.

Some spider vein risk factors cannot be avoided, but there are ways to lower the risk of developing them as well as ways to help decrease the symptoms associated with spider veins. Below are a few lifestyle changes to help with spider vein disease:


Diagnosis of spider veins happens with a simple physical examination by a vein specialist.

Because spider veins are visible at the surface of your skin, they can simply be diagnosed by a vein specialist during a physical exam. These veins can appear anywhere on the legs, the face, and the chest. They are purple, blue, pink or red and typically resemble a spider web and can be flat or slightly raised to the touch.


Treatments for spider veins

You can’t remove spider veins with over-the-counter or prescribed pills, creams, or gels. Other at-home or medical treatments for spider veins can reduce or remove them.

Home remedies and treatments

Compression socks or stockings help blood flow more easily through your legs. Wearing them regularly may help prevent more spider veins from developing. These socks can be different strengths, from over-the-counter light pressure socks to prescription-strength stockings, which can only be prescribed by a doctor.

Exercise and weight loss can help prevent spider veins. Engaging the muscles in your legs helps push blood up through them and avoid pooling. Losing weight can also relieve your legs of extra downward pressure that makes it harder for the blood to travel up your veins.

Alternative therapies

A few studies have shown that horse chestnut seed extract may also help reduce the symptoms and development of spider veins, but this treatment needs more research to determine its effectiveness.

Medical procedures

One of the most common spider vein removal procedures is laser treatment. For these treatments, a surgical-grade laser above your skin targets your spider veins causing them to dissolve. You may need more than one laser treatment session to completely remove the appearance of spider veins, depending on their size.

Another professional treatment to remove spider veins is sclerotherapy. A small chemical injection goes directly into the spider vein, which makes its sides stick together and block blood flow. Blood then re-routes to healthier veins nearby, and the injected vein eventually fades.

Risks and side effects of spider veins treatments

Compression socks aren’t safe for everyone. They may cause injury to the skin or nerves if they’re not worn properly, putting uneven pressure on your legs. 

Unlike sclerotherapy, laser therapy doesn’t break your skin, but it may cause infection, burns, bruising, bleeding, nerve damage, skin discoloration, and other side effects. Sclerotherapy has similar risks, including allergic reaction to the chemical injection. 

Check with your doctor before choosing any spider vein removal treatment to evaluate your risks and find what’s best for you.


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