Broken capillaries on the face sound scary and intimidating. We often carefully examine our skin to check for pimples or a bunch of rogue blackheads. Sometimes, we might chance upon a network of bright red tributaries or web-like veins on particular areas on the face. These are broken capillaries or enlarged blood vessels that are just below your skin surface.
Now, this doesn’t mean the end of the world. This condition can be treated. In this article, we have discussed the reasons and treatment options for broken capillaries. Keep reading.
In This Article
What Are Broken Capillaries?
This condition is also known as telangiectasia or spider veins. In this condition, the blood vessels right beneath your skin surface enlarge or widen, creating red, web-like threaded patterns on your skin.
They mostly appear in the areas around your lips, eyes, cheeks, nose, fingers, and legs. These usually appear in clusters. In most cases, broken capillaries on the face don’t affect your health. These are harmless unless caused by underlying health issues (we have discussed this later in the article). However, these patterns on your face can make you conscious about your appearance.
Let’s find out the reasons behind this condition.
What Causes Broken Capillaries Or Blood Vessels On Your Face?
The exact cause of broken capillaries or telangiectases is unclear.
However, several factors may cause broken capillaries. They include:
- Aging (blood vessels are weakened with age)
- Skin trauma (bruises may cause broken capillaries)
- Genetic factors
- Excessive exposure to the sun and wind (damages the blood vessels and bring them close to the surface)
- Side effects of medicines (may enlarge the venules)
- Side effects of topical or oral corticosteroids (result in skin thinning and broken capillaries)
- Pregnancy (increased pressure on venules)
- Surgical incisions
- Excessive alcohol consumption (affects blood flow and causes liver issues)
During pregnancy, your chances of getting broken capillaries increase. The growing fetus puts excessive pressure on the blood vessels, breaking them. Hormonal therapy or taking birth control pills may also cause broken capillaries on the face.
You may also inherit the condition. It is called Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT). Five genes are suspected of causing this issue, and out of five, only three could be identified. Only 1% of people inherit this condition.
Apart from these causes, telangiectasia or broken capillaries can be a symptom of underlying health conditions. These include:
- Bloom Syndrome (a rare genetic condition. Broken capillaries are one of its symptoms.)
- Liver disease
- Nevus Flammeus or Port-Wine Stain (large patch of skin discoloration caused by capillary malformation)
- Ataxia Telangiectasia (a rare inherited condition of body systems)
- Osler-Weber-Rendu Syndrome or Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia
- Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber Syndrome (a condition combining Port-Wine Syndrome and varicose veins)
- Rosacea (a chronic skin condition)
- Xeroderma Pigmentosum (a rare condition that increases UV sensitivity of the skin and eyes)
- Spider Angioma (the blood vessels get collected closer to the skin surface)
- Sturge-Weber syndrome (a disorder affecting the nervous system)
Conditions that affect your connective tissues may also cause broken capillaries. They include lupus, dermatomyositis, and scleroderma.
Broken Capillaries: Symptoms And Diagnosis
Broken capillaries are easily visible on your skin. The symptoms include:
- Fine, thread-like lines
- A web-like network of red lines
- Can be reddish, purple or bluish
- May cause itching and pain
- Measures between 1-3 mm
- Commonly found on chin, nose, cheeks
The red thread-like patterns on your skin surface make this condition easy to diagnose. However, doctors may also conduct clinical tests to determine if any underlying health condition caused broken capillaries. They might conduct the following tests:
- CT scan
- Liver function tests
- Blood tests
They may also conduct other related tests to detect any abnormalities. Depending on the diagnosis, they will treat your condition.
How To Treat Broken Capillaries On The Face? Do Home Remedies Work?
Telangiectasia cannot be cured. However, you can treat it. The treatment mostly depends on the diagnosis. If rosacea is causing broken capillaries, the doctor will try to treat rosacea to minimize the appearance of broken capillaries.
Not all treatments work for everyone with broken capillaries. Hence, it is better to consult a doctor to find out which treatment method is suitable for you. Here are the treatment options for broken capillaries:
1. Topical Retinoids
Retinoids are used to treat many skin issues and can reduce the visibility of the capillaries. However, be careful as retinoids might cause redness and itching.
2. Laser Therapy
Doctors use lasers to destroy the damaged capillaries. This might involve a little bit of pain and discomfort and may also cause skin damage initially. However, your skin recovers quickly.
In this process, the doctor injects sclerosing agents to seal the visible vessels and make them disappear. While this process can be painful for a few, not everyone experiences discomfort and pain. The recovery period is short.
4. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)
This therapy is similar to laser therapy. However, the lasers used in IPL penetrate deep into your skin layers without causing any damage.
There is no scientific evidence to establish whether or not natural remedies or ingredients can minimize the appearance of broken capillaries. However, you may take care of your skin at home and follow these measures to prevent aggravating the condition any further:
- Avoid Washing Your Face With Hot Water
Hot water can further damage your blood vessels. Even if you are using warm water, be gentle when using it on your face.
- Use Cold Compress
Be it a bag of frozen peas or an ice pack, it can provide great relief. Right after sun exposure, apply a cold compress to prevent the appearance of broken capillaries.
- Massage With Aloe Vera
Aloe vera has skin-soothing effects. Although it may not help with broken capillaries, it might help in soothing other skin issues, such as rosacea, and reducing redness (1). If your broken capillaries are a result of rosacea, aloe vera gel might help.
- Minimize Sun Exposure
Avoid exposing your skin to the harmful UV rays during the peak hours. Wear sunscreen and cover yourself up properly if you are going out.
- Control Your Alcohol Consumption
Drink in moderation. Consult a doctor and inquire if it is okay if you drink in moderation or you need to quit completely.
This is a common skin issue, and anyone can get it. However, certain factors make a few people vulnerable to broken capillaries.
The following reasons may increase your chances of developing broken capillaries on your face:
- Exposure to the sun
- Alcohol abuse
- Skin issues, such as rosacea, scleroderma, and dermatomyositis
If you notice a few broken capillaries after skin trauma or injury, they might go away as your skin heals. On the flip side, if the condition is genetic, you may need to treat it frequently. The treatment completely depends on the causative factors.
If you notice broken capillaries on your face, it is better to consult a doctor immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Hope this article was informative. If you have any queries, post them in the comments section, and we’ll get back to you.
- Update on the management of rosacea, Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.