Spider veins are the smaller—but no less unsightly—cousin of varicose veins. These small clusters of veins are closer to the surface of the skin than varicose veins, and typically appear either red or blue, branching out like a tree. In some cases only a small patch of skin is involved; in others, the visible spider vein network can be extensive.
Like varicose veins, spider veins are caused by venous weaknesses which cause the blood to pool. Unlike with varicose veins, however, sometimes these venous weaknesses can be brought on by hormonal changes or by too much exposure to the sun. In other cases, the venous problems can be attributed to obesity, a lack of exercise and poor circulation, in a similar manner to varicose veins.
While it’s impossible to completely remove the risk of developing spider veins, there are some simple steps you can take to help make them less likely.
1. Use Plenty of Sunscreen
Spider veins on the face are particularly thought to be linked to UV radiation, so it’s important to use adequate sunscreen, especially as you get older. Use a sunscreen with SPF 30, keeping in mind that higher SPF values don’t convey much additional protection. Apart from protecting against spider veins, of course, this will also help to protect your skin from other harmful sun effects.
2. Manage Your Weight
Weight gain increases the risk of venous problems and makes both spider veins and varicose veins more likely to develop. In addition to the circulation problems brought on by obesity, this is also likely to be due to the hormonal changes caused by excess fat. By maintaining a healthy weight, you can help to reduce the likelihood of developing either, and you’ll also be protecting yourself against a wide range of other health complications too.
3. Get Plenty of Exercise
Linked to point number two is the need for regular exercise, particularly involving your legs. Swimming, running, and cycling are excellent for helping to keep spider veins at bay by improving overall circulation—and they’ll boost your overall health, too.
4. Avoid Standing or Sitting for Prolonged Periods
Don’t stand or sit for more than half an hour without getting up to stretch your legs if at all possible. If you have to stand for a long time, try alternating putting your weight on one leg and then on the other. If you have to sit for an extended period of time, it can help to have your feet up even slightly off the ground, for instance on a small box while you’re at work.
5. Uncross Your Legs
This is a minor step, but can contribute in the bigger scheme of spider vein prevention. Avoid the urge to cross your legs whenever possible, as doing so inhibits circulation, and healthy circulation is vital to the venous system.
6. Wear Lower Heels
Low heeled shoes actually encourage conditioning of the calf muscles, and this in turn boosts circulation. Save the stilettos for when you really want to make an impression, and choose lower shoes for everyday purposes. Your back will thank you for this, too.
7. Put Your Feet Up While Resting
The perfect excuse to lay back in style! Putting your feet up while you’re resting at home really does help, because the blood doesn’t have to work so hard to get back up out of your legs and to your heart. If you’ve ever noticed your ankles swell after sitting for a long period, you’ve already witnessed the opposite process in effect. Putting your feet up gives your dilated veins a break, and allows them to return to a normal size.
So there you have it—being waited on hand and foot really is good for your health after all, and every little bit helps when it comes to spider vein prevention.