Enlarged capillaries or telangiectasia are permanently enlarged and visible tiny blood vessels in the surface areas of the skin. They are manifested in the form of linear, dotty and starry red or purple changes, from 0.5 to 1 mm in diameter.
Enlarged capillaries can occur in any parts of the body, but are most commonly seen on the face, around the nose, cheeks and the beard. Often they occur on the feet, especially on the thighs, under the knee and on the ankles. They are four times more common in women.
The causes of enlarged capillaries
Causes of enlarged capillaries include several different factors.
Hereditary factors can be a cause of enlarged capillaries on the skin, they are mostly an esthetic problem, and only in small number of cases point to a disease of internal organs. Venous disease and high blood pressure in venous blood vessels is one of the most common causes of enlarged capillaries on legs in the form of bluish and reddish lines, or spider like drawing. Hormonal factors increase the tendency towards the emergence of enlarged capillaries; they often come during pregnancy, taking oral contraceptives, hormone therapy or in puberty. Exposure to Sun and UV radiation damages the small blood vessels in surface areas of the skin, also causes the emergence of enlarged capillaries, especially in the exposed parts of the skin, face and cleavage. Other skin diseases, especially Rosacea, are characterized by the appearance of visible linear and starry enlarged capillaries on the skin of the face. Systemic sclerosis is a disease of skin and internal organs, in which there is a multitude of enlarged capillaries of many different shapes, on the skin of the face and cleavage. Liver diseases in advanced stages can manifest in sudden appearance of a large number of spider-like capillaries on the trunk of the body. Long-term therapy with corticosteroids can lead to the appearance of enlarged capillaries on the skin. Skin trauma, surgical cuts or carcinoma radiotherapy are also closely related with the appearance of visible capillaries on the skin.
Enlarged facial capillaries
Enlarged facial capillaries can be a manifestation of other listed diseases. If they appear isolated, they are visible as tiny red linear or spider-like drawings, usually around the nose and on the cheeks.
Extended capillaries are more common in people with lighter skin, who have been exposed to solar radiation for a longer time. UVA rays are responsible for capillary damage on facial skin of sensitive persons. Due to all of the above, the basic preventive measure is stopping them from occurring, avoiding exposure to the Sun, using creams with protective factors of spf 30+, wearing hats.
Enlarged blood vessels in the legs
Enlarged blood vessels in the legs are often the manifestation of the vein weaknesses, relaxation of venous valves and heightened pressure in venous blood vessels. They commonly occur in women, usually between the age of 18 and 35 or between the age of 50 and 60. Pregnancy is a key factor which in women leads to the weakness of the vein walls and appearance of enlarged capillaries in the form of a blue and red drawing on the legs. Excess body weight, long periods of sitting and standing increase the tendency for enlarged capillaries to appear. Increasing physical activity and reducing body mass are basic preventive measures that will enhance venous circulation in legs.
Enlarged capillaries are only an esthetic problem and have no influence on the general health of the organism and if they bother you, you can always choose to remove them.
Spec. Dr. Svetlana Djurisic, dermatologist
Dermatological clinic DERMATIM, Belgrade, Serbia