Understanding the Main Causes of Spider Veins

Although spider veins share a name with common pests, they have nothing to do with the arachnid. They get their name from how the veins appear on the skin’s surface in a spider web-like pattern.

If you are living with spider veins, you’re not alone.

Between 30% and 60% of adults will get spider or varicose veins in their lifetime. This common condition is typically most visible on the lower legs but can also surface on the face.

For those with mild spider veins, often, no symptoms are noted, and treatment is provided with more of a cosmetic focus.

For others with more severe spider or varicose veins, treatment may be recommended to reduce the appearance of the blueish purple veins while also eliminating symptoms.

Although we understand that spider veins are common occurrences and usually not harmful or life threatening, the bigger question is how they are caused.

Let’s dive into spider vein causes in more detail, along with exactly how they’re formed, risk factors, and treatment options.

What Are Spider Veins?

Spider veins are small, twisted blood vessels visible on the skin’s surface. They may be red, purple, or blue and most often appear on the legs, feet, ankles, or face.

Spider veins are considered the smaller version of varicose veins, which tend to appear larger and affect more prominent veins and blood vessels.


The most common symptom of spider veins is their purplish blue web-like appearance on the skin.

While some may experience no symptoms, others may complain of

  • An achy or heavy feeling in the legs
  • Burning
  • Throbbing
  • Muscle cramps and swelling throughout the lower legs
  • Pain after sitting or standing for an extended period
  • Itchiness
  • Skin color changes

What Causes Spider Veins?

Weak or damaged valves cause spider veins.

The primary function of veins is to return blood from the rest of the body to the heart. To do so, the veins in the legs must work against gravity.

By way of leg muscle contractions and elastic vein walls, blood can return to the heart efficiently.

Tiny valves in the veins open as blood flows back toward the heart. They close to stop blood from flowing backward.

When these valves are weak or damaged, blood begins to flow backward and pool in the veins. This causes the veins to stretch and twist, leading to spider and varicose veins.

Risk Factors

There are various reasons you may get spider veins.

Some of the following may increase your risk of developing them:

  • A family history of spider veins
  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity
  • Standing or sitting for long periods regularly
  • Gender—Females are more likely to develop spider veins due to frequent hormonal changes
  • Those taking hormonal contraceptives

Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Your Risk of Developing Spider Veins

Even if you are at an increased risk of developing spider veins, there are various ways you can reduce your risk by implementing healthy lifestyle choices into your everyday life.

Some practical and proven ways to reduce your risk include

  • Avoiding high heels and tight hosiery
  • Changing your sitting or standing position regularly
  • Eating a high-fiber, low-salt diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Elevating your legs when sitting or lying down
  • Managing your weight

Comprehensive Spider Vein Treatment in North Carolina

If you’ve recently developed spider veins, have been living with them for a while, or are experiencing worsening symptoms consistent with this condition, we are here to help.

Our skilled team is always available to discuss your vein health needs, diagnose your specific vein condition, and provide comprehensive treatment options to help you look and feel your best.

Our vein care specialists are experts in the most advanced vein care procedures and technologies, including spider vein treatment. Call 336-536-6522 to schedule an appointment today.