Science | Health

The Truth About Varicose Veins That Everyone Needs To Know

Believe it or not, 60 percent of adults have varicose veins - those jagged, swollen, bluish/purple cords that spread across our thighs and calves.

For some, they can be unsightly nuisances, but for many others, they're downright painful. There are ways to treat them, but first, you've got to understand what causes them.

If you suffer from varicose veins, you'll want to read this:

Spider Veins VS. Varicose Veins - there's a difference

Many people confuse spider veins with varicose veins, but they are definitely not the same thing. Spider veins are small, twisted blood vessels that appear through the skin as red, purple or blue. You'll see that they look like a little spiderweb and can form on the face and legs.

Varicose Veins are large blood vessels that become swollen and twisted. Although they develop anywhere on the body, they usually appear on the legs and ankles. They are dark blue and stick out prominently from the skin.

What causes them?

Our veins have valves in them that permit the blood to flow in the right direction. Muscles contract our veins and help them to pump blood to the heart.

When there is a problem with the muscles, valves or the blood itself, the flow is interrupted and blood pools inside the vein. When this happens, pressure builds up and the vein begins to bulge and twist.

Who Gets These?

It turns out that women are twice as susceptible as men. It's more common for people who have jobs that require them to be on their feet for long hours, such as nurses or teachers.

Other factors that can contribute to varicose and spider veins are aging, obesity, pregnancy, trauma, surgery to the leg and your genes.

Where Do They Appear?

According to vascular specialist, Professor Mark Whiteley, varicose veins can appear in plenty of other areas on the body - besides the legs.

He has treated patients suffering from varicose veins around the eyes, arms and hands, breasts, anus and yes, even the vagina and vulva.

There Can Be Complications

For the most part, they are unsightly and uncomfortable. But, in some cases, spider and varicose veins can contribute to ulcers forming (large sores on the skin) especially around the ankles. Varicose veins are known to form painful blood clots as well.

Treatment

if you experience swelling, tender spots, ulcers and changes in skin color, it would be a good idea to seek treatment from your doctor.

Generally, they are harmless. But if they result in ulcers, bleeding and phlebitis (swelling) spider and varicose veins can be treated surgically.

Otherwise, here are a few ways to treat the symptoms at home:

  • Compression/support stockings
  • Light Exercise
  • Manage weight with a low-salt diet
  • Prop your legs
  • Sleep on your left side

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[h/t WebMD / Medical News Today / Express ]