Common Myths About Spider Veins - Answering Your Questions

There are many myths about spider veins circulating the internet. Below, you will find accurate answers to the most frequently asked questions about spider veins. Hopefully, this will help dispel any false myths you may have read.

What causes spider veins?

Spider veins are caused when the valves in your veins malfunction. The valves in your veins prevent the blood from flowing backwards when it is returning to the heart. If the valves malfunction, the blood begins to pool up and spider veins form. Below are a few causes of spider veins:

  • Obesity
  • Sun Exposure
  • Prolonged sitting or standing
  • Injuries
  • Heredity
  • Hormonal Changes such as pregnancy or menopause

What is the medical term for spider veins?

In medical terminology, spider veins are sometimes referred to as telangiestasia or sunburst varicosities. These medical terms can make the condition sound worse than it really is. However, even though doctors seldom use these terms when discussing the condition with their patients, they are good terms to know since you may see them in your medical paperwork.

Are spider veins the same as varicose veins?

Yes and no. In one sense they are and in another sense they are not. They are caused by the same underlying problem but they involve different blood vessels. Spider veins form when valves malfunction in the very tiny veins near the surface of the skin. Varicose veins form when valves malfunction in the larger veins deeper down and surrounded by muscle tissue. Spider veins never bulge out whereas varicose veins often do. Spider veins are less likely to hurt and advance to a more serious condition than varicose veins.

Are spider veins dangerous to your health?

In the vast majority of cases, the answer is no. However, both spider veins and varicose veins can potentially lead to a more serious condition called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). CVI can get progressively worse and even lead to blood clots and inflammation.

Do spider veins form only in the legs?

No. While it is true that spider veins are more common in the legs, they can also form in other areas of the body such as the cheeks and the nose.

Will crossing your legs cause spider veins?

One of the most widely circulated medical myths on the internet is that crossing your legs causes spider veins. It simply isn't true. The theory, according to some people, is that crossing your legs compresses the veins in your thighs and calves and this causes spider veins. However, spider veins are caused by malfunctions in the vein valves, not by compression of the veins. You should keep in mind, though, that it may not be a good idea to cross your legs if you have decreased blood flow to your extremities, as do many type 2 diabetics.

Does standing cause spider veins?

People who stand for long periods of time are at higher risk to develop both spider veins and varicose veins in their legs. This is because when you are standing, the valves in the veins in your legs have to work harder than when you are sitting or lying down. This is due to the fact that gravity makes the flow of blood back up your leg to your heart more difficult in the standing position.

Do men get spider veins?

There is a myth that only women get spider veins but this is not true. In fact, more than forty percent of all men over the age of sixty have spider veins. Spider veins are sometimes hidden on men since they tend to have more hair on their bodies.

Do vitamin K creams make spider veins disappear?

No. This is another spider vein myth. While vitamin K is good for the skin, it will not make spider veins disappear. In fact, no type of cream or lotion will get rid of spider veins.

Does getting a tan help get rid of spider veins?

No. This myth probably started because when you get a tan, the darker skin makes it more difficult to see spider veins.

Can elevating your feet help get rid of spider veins?

Elevating your feet will not help you get rid of spider veins. However, elevating your feet above your thighs when you are sitting down or above your heart when you are lying down will help prevent more spider veins and varicose veins from forming.

What is the average age when spider veins first appear?

While some people get spider veins in their twenties, they become much more common in middle age. They tend to form earlier in women because of pregnancy and/or because of hormonal changes during a woman's monthly cycle that causes water retention. Water retention in a woman's legs puts more pressure on the vein valves.