Almost everyone knows by now that ultraviolet radiation (UV) causes skin damage and can lead to skin cancer, including the dreaded life threatening melanoma type of skin cancer. However, it seems to be a lessor known fact that UV causes spider veins. Luckily though, prospective patients at varicose vein treatment clinics are now beginning to ask about this because the topic has been in the news lately.
If you search online for the search phrase, “Does UV cause spider veins,” you’ll get conflicting reports. Some websites say “yes” while others say “no.” This is because many websites are not basing their information on published scientific reports or on expert advice from vein specialists who are familiar with the latest research. The truth of the matter is that UV does indeed cause spider veins, and if this has happened to you, it’s better to seek varicose vein treatment before these spider veins get worse and cause varicosity in deeper veins.
UV causes spider veins through several interconnected mechanisms. First, when your skin warms in the sun, the body has an automatic cooling mechanism that kicks in. It sends more blood into your superficial veins and capillaries right near the surface of the skin to help dissipate heat and cool you off. If you’re outdoors a lot and or you already have weakened veins and capillaries, this extra blood can stretch your vessels and cause rupture and other damage.
Second, the UVA portion of the sunlight penetrates deeply into your epidermis on all parts of your body and even into your dermis on some portions of your body where your skin is thinner. This causes a breakdown of collagen fibers, elastin fibers, and the matrix surrounding your capillaries and small veins. This causes these vessels to dilate and become damaged as well.
Third, UVA also penetrates down to the cellular level of your capillaries and veins. This causes DNA damage in these cells. It also causes structural damage to the cell membranes of these vessels. This is particularly pronounced on the face where the skin is quite thin. This causes spider veins on the nose, cheeks, and chin. Since they are so noticeable in these areas, many people will seek varicose vein treatment on the facial spider veins before they’ll seek varicose vein treatment on leg spider veins. However, leg spider veins are almost always connected to deep leg veins where they can cause more serious health issues than facial spider veins.
The best way to prevent spider veins due to UV damage around the nose, cheeks, and chin is wearing a wide brimmed sun hat, where the brim is at least two inches, and fully shades the face. This is far better, in fact, than 30+ SPF sunscreen that is often misapplied and easily washes off by perspiration and moisture in the air. Many people will also rub their face without even realizing it and this too can rub away the benefits of sunscreen. However, the shade from a wide brimmed sunhat never washes away!
To prevent spider veins on the legs and arms, it’s best to wear sun pants and a long sleeved sun shirt if you plan to be out in the sun for several hours or you work in the sun. Please note that sun pants and sun shirts provide much more protection from UV than regular pants and shirts. They are made from more tightly woven fibers that more fully block the sun and have been treated with UV blocking chemicals and or have nano particles of titanium dioxide or zinc oxide woven into the fabric to block the UV.
Wearing sun protective clothing can help prevent the need for varicose vein treatment. It’s also good to wear sun protective clothing after you have sclerotherapy, laser treatment, or other varicose vein treatment since your veins will be even more susceptible to damage by UV for a few weeks after treatment. Wearing this type of clothing will also reduce the chance of your spider veins itching, burning, or stinging in the UV or the hot sun.
Look for sun pants and sun shirts with a protection rating of UPF 50+ that have been independently tested by ARPANSA. UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor. A UPF rating of 50 means that only 1/50, or two percent, of the sun’s UV radiation will reach your skin under the clothing. The rest of the UV (98+%) will be blocked! Further, a UPF rating of 50+ means that more than 99 percent of all UV will be blocked. Wearing sun protective clothing can prolong your need for varicose vein treatment if you already have spider veins and can prevent the need for varicose vein treatment if you do not already have them.
Spider veins are nothing to take lightly. They can be a sign of a more serious issue further beneath the skin. They can also cause problems in other veins. For all of these reasons, it’s important to get your varicose veins checked out by experts at a varicose vein treatment center, regardless of whether or not you care about their appearance. You can get a free evaluation at Metro Vein Centers by calling one of their locations. Metro Vein Centers has leading experts in the field who work on everything from spider veins to leg ulcers using a variety of techniques.