Broken blood vessels on the face are enlarged blood vessels that occur just beneath the surface of the skin. The resulting red, web-shaped appearance gives them their common name, spider veins.
Spider veins are commonly found on the face or legs, though they may appear anywhere on the body. Other than their appearance, spider veins do not cause any other symptoms.
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.
Broken blood vessels on the face can develop in anyone at any age, but some people may have a higher chance of developing them than others.
Some causes of broken blood vessels on the face include:
- Genes: People whose family members experience spider veins are more likely to have them, too.
- Sun exposure: Sun damage can enlarge the blood vessels and draw them closer to the skin.
- Changes in weather: Drastic changes in the weather may affect the circulation in the body, causing the skin in the face to flush. The blood vessels may burst, causing a spider vein.
- Changes in pressure: Sudden, extreme changes in pressure may cause small broken blood vessels to appear. An exceptionally hard sneeze or vomiting can cause this change in pressure.
- Pregnancy: Hormonal changes during pregnancy may also cause broken blood vessels. Pregnancy-related spider veins usually disappear after giving birth.
- Environmental irritants: Exposure to certain chemicals or environmental pollutants may damage the skin and make blood vessels more visible.
- Rosacea: This is a common condition that causes the skin to become flushed and red due to enlarged veins. People with rosacea often experience spider veins.
- Alcohol consumption: Alcohol can dilate the blood vessels temporarily. Frequent alcohol consumption may lead to longer-lasting broken blood vessels and redness on the face.
- Injuries: Head injuries that cause bruising may also cause broken blood vessels. In this case, the blood vessels will often heal as the bruise does.
A doctor can usually diagnose broken blood vessels on the face with a visual examination.
There is a range of treatment options available, but not all treatments work for everyone, so a person with spider veins may need to try several before finding what helps them.
Retinoid creams are used for many skin conditions, and a doctor may recommend retinoids for some people with spider veins.
Retinoids may help reduce the visibility of the veins and boost the health of the skin. However, they may also dry out the skin and cause itching and redness where applied.
Sclerotherapy uses injections of sclerosing agents to help spider veins disappear in a short period of time, generally a few weeks.
The injected material helps seal up the blood vessels, which causes the visible blood just under the skin to disappear.
Some people may experience discomfort and pain using this method, but these side effects should resolve within a few days.
Laser therapy uses intense laser lights to destroy problematic veins. However, laser therapy can also damage the skin, which could make it sensitive during recovery.
The process can also be expensive, and multiple sessions are often needed to get the desired result. The veins can return, and the procedure may need to be repeated.
Intense pulled light
Intense pulled light (IPL) therapy uses special lights that penetrate into the deeper layers of skin without damaging the top layer. This treatment may mean less recovery time and less damage to the skin.
IPL therapy works in a similar way to laser therapy for broken blood vessels, though several sessions may be necessary to achieve results.
In some cases, home remedies may help prevent or reduce the appearance of broken blood vessels on the face.
Home remedies are usually safe and do not cause any side effects, but it is a good idea to test new products on a small patch of skin 24 hours in advance of doing a full facial treatment to rule out any adverse reactions.
It is best to discuss home remedies with a doctor when taking medication, or undergoing medical treatments.
Avoiding using hot water
The face is delicate, and excess heat may lead to broken blood vessels. It is essential to avoid using hot water when washing the face.
Using cold or warm water to wash the body and face may help avoid damage to the blood vessels.
A simple cold compress, such as an ice pack or bag of frozen peas, can be applied to the face after sun or heat exposure. The cold may help reduce the appearance of burst blood vessels in the face.
Arnica oil or products containing arnica may help reduce the appearance of spider veins. The oil may cause an allergic reaction in some people, so it is important to test it out on a small patch of skin first and report any side effects to a dermatologist.
Arnica products are available to buy in natural food stores, drug stores, or online.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar may act like an astringent in the face, pulling the skin tight to reduce redness. This may help with the appearance of spider veins in some people.
Dabbing a cotton ball in vinegar and applying it to the area may help reduce the signs of burst blood vessels in the face.
Witch hazel is a natural astringent that may help reduce the appearance of spider veins. Witch hazel contains tannins, which have antioxidant properties and may help pores look smaller.
Witch hazel is available to buy from many health food stores, pharmacies, or online.
The gel from an aloe vera plant may be helpful in treating skin redness. Research has found that aloe vera could reduce redness like a medicinal cream (hydrocortisone) but also dried out the skin cells.
People choosing to use aloe vera on the skin should be sure to moisturize after each use.
Taking vitamin C supplements may help reduce the appearance of broken blood vessels on the face.
Research has found that many herbs may have an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin.
While these herbs have not been directly tested on spider veins, they may help support treatment in some cases.
Herbs that may be used on spider veins include:
- marshmallow root
Steps a person can take to help prevent spider veins include:
- Avoid extreme heat: Very high temperatures from spas, saunas, or hot weather may dilate the blood vessels and increase the chances of spider veins appearing.
- Limit sun exposure: Wearing sunscreen, a hat, and long layers of clothing can help reduce the chances of spider veins from sun damage. It may also help to avoid the sun during peak hours in the middle of the day if living in a hot area.
- Wear protection: Protective gear may help avoid spider veins caused by injury. Examples include facemasks and helmets for baseball, cycling, or riding a motorcycle.
- Avoid vasodilators: Vasodilators cause vessels to fill with blood and may make spider veins more noticeable. Common vasodilators include caffeine, spicy foods, and alcohol. Even moderate alcohol drinking can cause redness and broken blood vessels in some people.
Spider veins cause no harm or additional symptoms. People who are bothered by the appearance of spider veins can try to determine the direct cause and take steps to avoid it.
In some cases, broken blood vessels on the face may be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Anyone uncertain about the cause of their spider veins should visit a doctor for an examination and diagnosis.
Experiencing broken blood vessels on the face is a common cosmetic issue. Many medicinal treatments and home remedies may help reduce or eliminate the problem, in addition to promoting overall skin health.
Some of the home remedies listed in this article are available for purchase online.