Thread veins, also called spider veins, are fine, visible, tiny veins in the top layer of the skin. Thread veins are dilated, surface veins in the leg located in the skin’s upper layer. The individual thread veins are often only a few centimetres long but can also cover large areas of the upper and lower leg like a spider’s web. Small thread veins are light red in colour. They are harmless and mostly just a cosmetic/aesthetic issue. However, they can be the first sign of chronic venous disease, which can later result in varicose veins, among other things. Consult your doctor.
Thread veins can appear on the upper leg, knee, hollow of the knee, lower leg (particularly calf and ankle) and on the foot. They are not painful. If varicose veins and other symptoms also occur, this may indicate a more serious venous disorder. Signs and symptoms to be aware of:
Many women first notice thread veins or varicose veins during pregnancy. The venous wall is weakened by hormones released during pregnancy. As the expectant mother gains weight, her body produces more blood and the pressure in her veins increases.
The risk factors for thread veins are comparable with those of a classic varicose vein condition. Experts state some issues are hereditary but other factors can be reduced by leading a healthy lifestyle.
Factors that cannot be influenced include:
Factors that can be influenced include:
One of the most effective ways to prevent thread veins is to be proactive in your leg care. Follow these tips to reduce the risk of developing thread veins:
From a distance, the skin areas affected by thread veins look like bruises; the mesh structure of the tiny veins is only visible if you look more closely. If the appearance of thread veins bothers you, there are several ways of removing them:
Patients with thread veins may suffer with other signs and symptoms of a chronic venous condition: If your legs feel heavy and/or tired, itchy or tingly, if you have a feeling of tightness or tend to have swollen legs then medical compression stockings may ease your symptoms.
Medical compression stockings are particularly effective in combination with exercise. Regularly wearing medical compression stockings eases symptoms and can prevent thrombosis.
You should consult your GP in the outset. If necessary you will be referred to a vein specialist (phlebologist). Phlebologists specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of vascular diseases, particularly venous diseases.
Thanks to their breathable, stretchy material, medical compression stockings are very comfortable for men and women to wear and often people would be unaware that your garment is providing additional support to your circulation. There are a wide variety of innovative and effective products, with different fabric strengths, colours and styles available to meet your individual needs as a patient. Wearing compression stockings and with modern technological advances in thread vein treatments, mean there are solutions to this condition.
*Rabe E et al. Bonner Venenstudie der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Phlebologie. Phlebologie 2003;32:1–14.