Spider Veins & Rosacea: Is There A Connection?

close view of woman's cheeks with redness

Table of Contents

  • What Is Rosacea?
  • What Are the Types of Rosacea?
  • Rosacea vs. Spider Veins
  • Treatment for Rosacea and Spider Veins
  • Visit a Qualified Vein Specialist

Spider veins, also known as telangiectasia, are broken or enlarged blood vessels near the surface of your skin. They are clusters of reddish-purple, squiggly, thread-like lines which can develop on your face or lower limbs at any age. They don’t usually cause symptoms, but they can affect your appearance.1

Spider veins typically occur due to vein damage caused by increased pressure on your legs. They can appear on your face due to aging, sun exposure, hormonal changes, or genetics.2 An underlying skin condition called rosacea can also cause facial spider veins.3 

Here’s everything you need to know about spider veins, rosacea, and how they are connected.

What Is Rosacea?

Rosacea is a common chronic skin condition that occurs due to inflammation. It usually appears on the face causing redness, swelling, irritation, or pimples. It can affect your nose, cheeks, chin, and forehead. Rarely, it can also appear on the scalp, chest, or the back of your neck. It isn’t contagious, and its severity varies among people.4

Over 14 million Americans live with rosacea. But the condition is more common in women than men and usually occurs between 30 and 50 years of age.5

What Are the Types of Rosacea?

Rosacea has four types depending on the symptoms:6

1. Vascular or erythematotelangiectatic rosacea

Vascular rosacea causes swelling, flushing, and redness on your face. The red areas often have enlarged blood vessels or spider veins. Your skin tends to become dry, rough, and sensitive. It may also sting or burn. 

2. Phymatous rosacea

It is a rare type and usually occurs with other types of rosacea. It also affects men more than women. Phymatous rosacea makes the skin on your nose red, bumpy, and thick, called rhinophyma. The skin on your cheeks, chin, forehead, and ears may also thicken. You’ll also notice large pores, oily skin, and visible veins.

3. Papulopustular or acne rosacea

Papulopustular rosacea causes redness, bumps or papules, and pus-filled whiteheads called pustules. It can occur on your face, neck, scalp, and chest. Doctors often misdiagnose this type as acne. 

4. Ocular rosacea

Ocular rosacea affects the eyes along with the skin. It causes inflammation in your eyes and eyelids. Your eyes may feel watery, red, dry, irritated, or sensitive. You may also feel a burning sensation in your eyes.

The symptoms of rosacea vary among people. You may even develop a combination of symptoms of more than one type of rosacea.

Rosacea vs. Spider Veins

Rosacea and spider veins both occur due to genetic and environmental factors. Spider veins form when you have vein damage. But unlike spider veins, rosacea is primarily caused by your immune system’s response to an infection. 

The symptoms of facial spider veins and rosacea may overlap. They both appear as red patches or clusters on your face, often on your nose, cheeks, chin, and forehead. If you have rosacea, you’ll notice spider veins on your face.7 

What causes rosacea?

The exact cause of rosacea is unknown. But doctors believe that it occurs due to your body’s immune response, which produces inflammatory molecules that cause redness and swelling. Genetics and family history also affect your risk of developing rosacea — if your family members have rosacea, you are at a higher risk of developing it.8 

Sometimes, changes in your blood vessels and skin proteins can cause rosacea. If your skin doesn’t produce enough of a protein called cathelicidin, it can’t protect your body from infection, which can also lead to rosacea. You can develop rosacea if you have hypersensitivity to Demodex mites or bacteria found around your hair follicles.9 Prolonged sun exposure, long-term steroid use or abuse, extreme temperature changes, and stress can also trigger rosacea.10

Diet can also cause rosacea flare-ups. Dairy products, spicy food, caffeine, and alcohol can worsen your rosacea symptoms.11

What causes spider veins?

Spider veins occur when there’s vein damage due to excessive pressure. Being overweight and sitting or standing for long periods can cause spider veins on your legs. The increased pressure weakens tiny blood vessels or capillaries that branch out from your veins. They form thread or spider web-like clusters under your skin. 

Apart from this, aging is also a risk factor for spider veins. With age, your vein walls become weak and damaged, which can lead to spider veins.12

Spider veins can develop on your face due to the following risk factors:13

  • Genetics and family history: If your family members have spider veins, you are more likely to have them. 
  • Hormonal changes and pregnancy: Hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause can cause changes in the vein walls. It can lead to spider veins. 
  • Prolonged sun damage: Sun damage can dilate the blood vessels on your face and make them visible. 
  • Weather changes: Sudden temperature changes can affect your blood circulation and make your skin flush. It can also enlarge your blood vessels and cause spider veins.
  • Injury or sudden increase in pressure: Injuries to the face or head can lead to spider veins. Sometimes, vomiting, sneezing, or coughing hard can suddenly increase the pressure, especially in the blood vessels on your face. It can cause spider veins.
  • Environmental toxins: Certain chemical irritants or pollutants can damage your skin and make spider veins visible.
  • Drinking alcohol or smoking: Drinking alcohol and smoking can dilate and break your blood vessels over the long term, leading to spider veins. 

Does rosacea cause spider veins?

Facial spider veins are a common symptom of rosacea. It makes your skin appear red or flushed. Based on the cause and type of rosacea, you may develop patches or clusters of spider veins on your face.14 

Treatment for Rosacea and Spider Veins

There is no cure for rosacea. Your skin doctor will check your symptoms and help you manage them using:15

  • Skin creams or gels to reduce infection and inflammation
  • Eye drops for eye-related symptoms
  • Oral antibiotics and medications like isotretinoin
  • Treatment to remove spider veins

They’ll also ask you to avoid specific triggers like certain types of foods or irritants that cause your rosacea flare-ups. 

If you have many tiny spider veins, your doctor may ask you to visit a vein doctor. A vein specialist will help you treat your spider veins using laser therapy, sclerotherapy, or thermocoagulation.16 

Visit a Qualified Vein Specialist

If you have noticeable spider veins, visit a vein specialist to examine and treat them. My Vein Treatment presents a unique vein specialist locator tool to help you find a qualified vein doctor in your locality. Just search by zip code and find a suitable vein doctor to address your vein problems. 

SOURCES:

  1. StatPearls: “Spider Veins.
  2. StatPearls: “Spider Veins.
  3. International Journal of Dermatology: “Epidemiology of rosacea in a population-based study of 161,269 German employees.
  4. InformedHealth.org: “Rosacea: Overview
  5. American Academy of Dermatology: “Rosacea: Who Gets and Causes.
  6. American Academy of Dermatology: “Rosacea: Signs and Symptoms.
  7. American Academy of Dermatology: “Rosacea: Signs and Symptoms.
  8. InformedHealth.org: “Rosacea: Overview
  9. American Academy of Dermatology: “Rosacea: Signs and Symptoms.
  10. InformedHealth.org: “Rosacea: Overview
  11. MedicalNewsToday: “What is rosacea?
  12. MedicalNewsToday: “Spider veins and varicose veins: What to know.
  13. MedicalNewsToday: “What causes broken blood vessels on the face?
  14. American Academy of Dermatology: “Rosacea: Signs and Symptoms.
  15. MedicalNewsToday: “What is rosacea?
  16. StatPearls: “Spider Veins.

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