Broken blood vessels on the face, or spider veins, are enlarged capillaries that occur just beneath the surface of the skin. Genetics, sun exposure, sneezing, and many other factors can cause them.

Spider veins often occur on the face or legs, though they may appear anywhere on the body. Spider veins do not cause any other symptoms, and they are not a risk to health. However, some people may dislike their appearance.

In this article, we look at the causes and treatments of broken blood vessels on the face, as well as home remedies and when to see a doctor.

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Broken blood vessels are very common, with most adults developing them at some point. They can occur in any person at any age, but some may have a higher likelihood of getting them.

Some causes of and risk factors for broken blood vessels on the face include:

  • Genes: 90% of people with spider veins have family members who also have them. This suggests there may be a genetic link.
  • Age: Spider veins often develop as a person gets older, as blood vessels weaken with age.
  • Injury: Injuries that cause bruising or skin damage on the face may also lead to broken blood vessels.
  • Certain medications: Using topical steroid creams may increase the likelihood of developing spider veins. Female hormone medications and vasodilators may also have this side effect.
  • Pregnancy: Hormonal changes during pregnancy may also cause broken blood vessels. Pregnancy-related spider veins usually disappear after giving birth.
  • Alcohol consumption: Alcohol can dilate the blood vessels. Frequent use may lead to broken blood vessels and redness in lighter skin tones.
  • Sun exposure: Sun damage can enlarge the blood vessels, potentially resulting in visible capillaries.
  • Changes in blood pressure: Sudden, extreme changes in blood pressure may cause small broken blood vessels to appear. An exceptionally hard sneeze or vomiting can cause this change in pressure.
  • Rosacea: People with some types of rosacea can experience spider veins and skin flushing as symptoms.
  • Other medical conditions: Health conditions that damage or scar the blood vessels may lead to broken blood vessels.

A doctor can usually diagnose broken blood vessels on the face with a visual examination. There are several treatment options available, but not all treatments work for everyone. For example, sclerotherapy is a procedure that can treat spider veins on the body, but it is not suitable for the face.

A doctor or dermatologist will recommend the best treatment for the location, size, and extent of the spider veins, as well as a person’s overall health and goals.

Laser therapy

Laser therapy is a noninvasive treatment that uses laser lights to heat and destroy spider veins. It works by delivering a pulse of photons, or light energy, that targets the color of the blood vessel, and not the surrounding skin.

During the procedure, a health professional will hold a handheld device next to the skin to deliver the pulse of light, which may feel like an elastic band snapping against the skin.

Laser therapy may cause a feeling of heat, irritation, or inflammation after the treatment. Sometimes, people experience side effects, such as hyperpigmentation. However, many modern laser devices are safe and effective, with a low risk of complications.

For small veins, the treatment may work immediately. For larger veins, they may darken and still be visible for another 1–3 months before disappearing.

People need to protect laser-treated skin from the sun for 3–4 weeks after having laser therapy. It is possible for new spider veins to form, in which case, maintenance sessions may be necessary to remove them.

Intense pulsed light

Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy works in a similar way to laser therapy, heating broken capillaries and destroying them in the process. The procedure and its potential side effects are also very similar, but the light from IPL had a broader spectrum of wavelengths.


As with IPL and laser therapy, thermocoagulation works by heating and damaging broken blood vessels, but it uses radio waves to do this rather than light.

During the procedure, a doctor inserts a very thin needle into the blood vessel, heating it to 70°C (158°F). At this point, the blood vessel seals and no longer receives blood. The body then reabsorbs it and it disappears.


This procedure involves the surgical removal of spider veins using tiny incisions of 1–3 millimeters, or needle punctures. From there, a doctor then removes the broken blood vessel with a small hook. Unlike other treatments, this option does not have a risk of scarring or hyperpigmentation.

Home remedies may not have the same results as medical treatments for broken blood vessels on the face. However, some self-care measures may temporarily reduce their appearance.

It is best to discuss home remedies with a doctor before trying them, especially when taking other medications or undergoing medical treatments.

Always test new products on a small patch in advance to ensure a person does not have an adverse reaction.

Cold therapy

Cold temperatures cause blood vessels to close, diverting blood away from the skin’s surface. Temporarily, this may reduce the appearance of broken capillaries or spider veins.

Some ways people can use cold therapy on the skin include:

  • applying a cool compress
  • applying skin cooling tools, such as rollers
  • pressing a bag of frozen vegetables, wrapped in a towel, against the area

Using cold or warm water to wash the body and face is also advisable.

Witch hazel

Witch hazel is an astringent, meaning it tightens soft tissues. It contains tannins that can constrict blood vessels, which may make spider veins less noticeable. However, there are few studies that have tested it on broken blood vessels directly, so it unclear how well it works.

Aloe vera

The gel from an aloe vera plant may be helpful in treating skin redness. An older 2014 study of females with light to medium skin tones found that aloe vera reduced skin redness to a similar extent as hydrocortisone, a medicated cream for skin inflammation and eczema.

However, this study did not look specifically at spider vein treatment.

It is not always possible to avoid broken blood vessels on the skin, but the following steps may help reduce the risk of them developing:

  • Avoid extreme heat: Very high temperatures from spas, saunas, baths, or hot weather may dilate the blood vessels and increase the chances of spider veins appearing. Avoid very high temperatures, and wash the face with warm rather than hot water.
  • Protect against UV light: The rays in sunlight and that come from tanning beds damage the skin over time. Wearing a hat with a brim, sunscreen on exposed skin, and staying in the shade at the sunniest times of the day may help.
  • Avoid harsh scrubbing: Mechanical exfoliation, such as scrubbing, can damage delicate skin on the face and may make broken blood vessels worse.
  • Stop smoking, if relevant: Smoking can also damage blood vessels, so those who smoke may benefit from quitting.

Broken blood vessels on the face are common, and they cause no harm. However, people who do not like their appearance can speak with a doctor or dermatologist about treatment options. Laser therapy, IPL, or other treatments may help to effectively remove them.

The following are answers to commonly asked questions about broken blood vessels.

Are broken capillaries bad?

No, they do not cause other symptoms and pose no health risks.

How do I get rid of broken blood vessels on my face?

A doctor can recommend the best treatment option. Some treatments include laser therapy, intense pulsed light (IPL), thermocoagulation, and microphlebectomy. People can also try home remedies like cold therapy, aloe vera, and witch hazel.

What causes broken veins on face?

A range of factors like genetics, sneezing, and sun exposure can cause broken blood vessels on the face.

Broken blood vessels on the face, or spider veins, are common. In most people, they cause no other symptoms. However, people can consult a dermatologist about procedures to remove them if they wish.

In some cases, broken blood vessels on the face may be a sign of an underlying medical condition, such as rosacea. Anyone uncertain about the cause of their spider veins, or who has additional symptoms, should visit a doctor for an examination and diagnosis.