The medical term for broken capillaries is telangiectasia, and they are a relatively frequent problem. They can develop on any part of the body but are most common on the face and legs. Capillaries are tiny blood vessels that connect veins and arteries together. Normally they aren’t visible on the surface of the skin. In the case of telangiectasia, capillaries and small veins weaken. This causes them to become wider and visible as red marks underneath the skin. People unlucky enough to have them are usually motivated to find a treatment for them since they’re difficult to cover up with make-up.
What Causes Them?
Telangiectasia are sometimes due to an inherited condition or a sign of an underlying medical problem, but they’re usually related to too much sun exposure or chronic alcohol use. Some medications including topical steroids, birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy and chemotherapy medications contribute to broken capillaries. They’re also a common problem in people who have a skin condition called rosacea.
They’re more frequent in females and often appear during pregnancy when high levels of hormones weaken the walls of capillaries and small veins and cause them to enlarge. Occasionally, broken capillaries develop after a bump or other trauma that damages the walls of small blood vessels.
Sun protection should be a priority for anyone with broken capillaries since ultraviolet light can make the problem worse. It’s the reason many people get them in the first place. Mineral sunscreens offer a mild but highly effective barrier against the sun’s damaging rays. They provide heavy duty sun protection in a mineral-based, non-irritating formula that can be used every day. Sun protection should be used both indoors and outdoors since some UVA rays can penetrate glass and cause skin damage.
Vitamin K is a vitamin that helps to strengthen the walls of capillaries and veins. Applying a vitamin K cream regularly can help repair damaged vessels so they’re less likely to leak. Many popular treatments contain vitamin K along with antioxidants that help to protect skin from damage due to sun exposure and pollution. Many of these products are safe even for sensitive skin. It may take two to three months to see significant improvement.
Spider veins, another common problem caused by weakened blood vessel walls, are sometimes treated with sclerotherapy, a procedure that involves injecting a saline solution into the blood vessel. This causes the vessel to seal off and disappear over time, but it’s usually not a good treatment for broken capillaries on the face. Most dermatologists prefer to use laser treatment for capillaries and spider veins on the face and side of the nose. Unfortunately, laser treatment for telangiectasia is costly and may require several visits for adequate treatment.
The Bottom Line?
Broken capillaries are a frustrating problem especially when they appear on the face. Sun protection helps to prevent new ones from appearing, but it won’t take away ones that have already formed. A topical vitamin K cream can help to prevent further damage while strengthening blood vessel walls so they’re less likely to leak. Use it with daily sunscreen for maximal benefits. It’s a less expensive alternative to laser surgery and can deliver satisfying results without the side effects of procedures such as sclerotherapy and laser treatments.