Spider veins refer to the abnormally enlarged, bluish or red-colored small blood vessels at the surface of the skin. They often appear in clusters, where they get the name ‘spider veins’ because of their spider like appearance. They also may appear in a starbust pattern. Spider veins, also known as telangiectasias, occur when blood pools in veins near the surface of the skin. They can be caused by heredity, being female, obesity, trauma, and fluctuations in hormone levels. In many cases, the exact cause is not known. They tend to become more numerous with age, and are common among people over 30 and in pregnant women.
Spider veins can be cosmetic, but may indicate an underlying condition. When spider veins appear around the inner ankle and inner thighs, this may indicate an underlying problem, called venous reflux in saphenous vein which are not visible to the naked eye. Ultrasound can determine if there is underlying venous reflux. Spider veins may also cause symptoms. Itching is a common symptom. Some patients complain of burning, stinging and pain sensations. The reason for the itching and other symptoms is because spider veins can be associated with inflammation. The inflammation in turn, can cause symptoms. Spider veins are most commonly treated with sclerotherapy.