Telangiectasia is a condition in which widened venules (tiny blood vessels) cause threadlike red lines or patterns on the skin. These patterns, or telangiectases, form gradually and often in clusters. They sometimes known as spider veins, because of their fine and weblike appearance.
Telangiectases are common in areas that are easily seen (such as the lips, nose, eyes, fingers, and cheeks). They can cause discomfort and some people find them unattractive. Many people choose to have them removed.
The exact cause of telangiectasia is unknown. These causes may be genetic, environmental, or a combination of both. It is believed that most cases of telangiectasia are caused by chronic exposure to the sun or extreme temperatures. This is because they usually appear on the body where skin is often exposed to sunlight and air.
Other possible causes include:
- alcoholism: this can affect the flow of blood in vessels and can cause liver disease
- pregnancy: pregnancy often applies large amounts of pressure on venules
- aging: aging blood vessels can begin to weaken
- rosacea: enlarges venules in the face, creating a flushed appearance in cheeks and nose
- habitual corticosteroid use: thins and weakens the skin