Green Veins vs. Blue Veins: What to Know (& When to Worry)

veins on woman's hands

Table of Contents

  • The Color of Healthy Veins
  • Green Veins vs. Blue Veins
  • When to Worry About Varicose Veins
  • Maintaining Vein Health

Your body consists of blood vessels such as veins, arteries, and capillaries that carry blood and nutrients to all your tissues. Arteries carry oxygenated blood from the heart to your organs and tissues. Veins transport deoxygenated blood or blood without oxygen from the tissues to your heart.1

Research shows that veins carry about 70% of the entire volume of your blood at any given time.2 Veins are present closer to the skin’s surface and have thinner walls than arteries. They also have gate-like valves to push blood upward to the heart against gravity and prevent its backflow.3 

Veins are full of dark red-colored deoxygenated blood. But if you look at the back of your hand, your veins appear blue or green.4

So, why do visible veins look different through the skin, and is there a difference between green veins vs. blue veins? 

The Color of Healthy Veins

Your body has three types of veins: pulmonary, deep, and superficial. The ones closest to your skin, which you can see clearly, are called superficial veins.5

Typically, healthy veins closest to the skin on your hands and legs appear greenish-blue. Sometimes, they may appear red or purple. These superficial veins appear so because of how you perceive the light that passes through the layers of your skin. So, the vein color depends on your skin tone, the levels of fat in your body, and how close the vein is to your skin.6 

Let’s see how this works and whether there’s any difference between green and blue veins. 

Green Veins vs. Blue Veins

When you look at your hands or legs and see bluish-green veins, your eyes are tricking you. The color you view is the wave of visible light reflected from the skin’s surface while other waves get absorbed. The visible light spectrum includes waves that your eyes can see, including the colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. The red waves have the longest wavelength, and the violet ones have the shortest. So, a red apple appears red because it reflects red waves and absorbs all other colors.7 

As you look at your veins through the layers of skin and fat surrounding them, they may look green or blue instead of red. Your skin absorbs the red waves, so only green or blue waves reach your eye. It creates an illusion, which makes you perceive your veins as “green veins” or “blue veins.”8

So, if you notice these veins, there is no cause for concern as they are healthy veins. And there is no real difference between green and blue veins other than their color. 

Now, if your skin tone is light, you have less amount of the skin pigment called melanin. Your skin absorbs fewer light waves allowing your veins to remain visible. So, you’ll notice visible green, blue, or purple veins.9 

If your skin tone is darker, you may not be able to see the color of your veins. This is because you have more skin pigment, which absorbs more light waves, making it difficult to see the veins and their color.10 The amount of fat in your body also affects how you perceive your veins. If your body has more fat, the veins may not be visible.11 

Some other reasons why you may have visible blue or green veins include the following:

  • Genetics. If your parents have noticeable veins, you may also have them, as they are genetic.12
  • Age. With age, skin becomes thinner and causes green and blue veins to be more visible.13
  • Exercise. Exercise can increase blood pressure and make your veins more visible.14
  • Laughing, yelling, or sneezing. They can suddenly increase pressure and make the veins around your face more prominent.15 
  • High blood pressure. High blood pressure can dilate your veins and make them visible. 16
  • Heat. Hot weather can expand your veins and make them visible. 17
  • Vein or valve damage. Vein or valve damage can prevent blood from flowing back to the heart, causing it to pool in the veins. It can enlarge your veins and can lead to varicose veins. These veins bulge and appear bluish-purple.18

When to Worry About Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are different from the blue-green veins you normally see. They are swollen and damaged blood vessels under your skin’s surface. They are commonly seen in the lower legs. They form when your vein walls or valves become weak and cause blood to backflow and collect in the vein. The vein appears bluish-purple, twisted, bulging, and enlarged.19 

Varicose veins are unsightly but are usually painless and not dangerous. But they can become painful, uncomfortable, or itchy. Left untreated, they can cause complications like swelling, blood clots, and leg ulcers. So, it’s best to get them treated before they get worse.20

Here are some varicose vein signs and symptoms to watch out for:

  • Heavy legs. Varicose veins can make your leg muscles feel tired or heavy after physical activity.21
  • Itching, burning, or tingling. You may notice itching, burning, or tingling in the skin around varicose veins.22
  • Pain or cramping. Your legs may ache, cramp, or feel sore behind the knees.23
  • Swelling. Varicose veins can lead to swelling or throbbing in your legs, ankles, and feet.24
  • Skin discoloration. Severe varicose veins can lead to brown pigmentation on your skin if left untreated.25 
  • Ulcers. Varicose veins can cause venous ulcers or sores on your legs.26

If you develop these varicose vein symptoms, consult a qualified vein specialist to identify the best treatment for your condition.

Maintaining Vein Health

Varicose veins can lead to health problems if they aren’t treated in time. If you’re prone to getting them, you must take the right steps to maintain your vein health. You must stay active, avoid sitting or standing for long periods and maintain a healthy weight to reduce the pressure on your legs. You can raise your legs above your waist to improve circulation back to the heart. Also, avoid using tobacco and smoking because it can damage your blood vessels.27

If you see bluish-green veins, don’t worry. But if your notice bulging bluish-purple veins or varicose vein symptoms, visit a vein specialist to get them treated immediately. My Vein Treatment’s vein specialist locator tool can help you find a qualified vein doctor near you so that you get rid of the unsightly veins for good. 


  1. Healthline: “Why Are My Veins Green?
  2. National Cancer Institute: “Classification & Structure of Blood Vessels.
  3. National Cancer Institute: “Classification & Structure of Blood Vessels.
  4. Healthline: “Why Are My Veins Green?
  5. Healthline: “Why Are My Veins Green?
  6. Healthline: “Why Are My Veins Green?
  7. Healthline: “Why Are My Veins Green?
  8. Children’s Museum Indianapolis: “Why do veins appear blue, but blood is red?
  9. Healthline: “Why Are My Veins Green?
  10. Healthline: “Why Are My Veins Green?
  11. Healthline: “Are Veiny Arms a Sign of Fitness, and How Do You Get Them?
  12. Healthline: “Why Are My Veins Green?
  13. Healthline: “Why Are My Veins Green?
  14. Healthline: “Are Veiny Arms a Sign of Fitness, and How Do You Get Them?
  15. Healthline: “Why Are My Veins Green?
  16. Healthline: “Are Veiny Arms a Sign of Fitness, and How Do You Get Them?
  17. Healthline: “Why Are My Veins Green?
  18. Cleveland Clinic: “Varicose Veins.
  19. Cleveland Clinic: “Varicose Veins.
  20. Cleveland Clinic: “Varicose Veins.
  21. Cleveland Clinic: “Varicose Veins.
  22. Healthline: “Why Are My Veins Green?
  23. Healthline: “Why Are My Veins Green?
  24. Cleveland Clinic: “Varicose Veins.
  25. Cleveland Clinic: “Varicose Veins.
  26. Cleveland Clinic: “Varicose Veins.
  27. Cleveland Clinic: “Varicose Veins.

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