What causes thread veins?

FAQ – What causes thread veins? – video 49 seconds

Many factors influence the formation of thread veins. These include:


Up to 90% of people with thread veins have a family history of them


Increased blood moving through the body in addition to the extra weight of the foetus places more pressure on leg veins during pregnancy. Some women notice that spider veins disappear after pregnancy, but they can be permanent


Thread veins tend to affect women more often than men


The valves in veins tend to get weaker over time. The calf muscles, which help support the veins in the legs and enable them to pump blood upward, may also lose some of their strength as a person grows older

Being overweight

Extra body weight can place added pressure on leg veins


Hormonal birth control and treatments for menopause may increase the risk of thread veins because oestrogen can weaken vein valves

Sitting or standing for extended periods

Veins in the legs have to work harder to pump blood up towards the heart when a person remains in the same position for several hours at a time

Previous blood clots or vein damage

This can damage the valves and make them unable to work properly

Excess pressure in the face

This can be due to forceful coughing, sneezing, or vomiting. Some women may get thread veins on their face after pushing during childbirth

Sun damage

Ultraviolet light from the sun can damage the skin and cause broken blood vessels or thread veins, especially on the face


Trauma to the skin (for example a wound)

Excessive heat exposures

Saunas, sunbeds and hot baths

Blood pressure

Increased blood pressure can cause damage to veins

Varicose veins

Previous treatment, or an underlying predisposition, for varicose veins

Alcohol consumption

Alcohol can dilate the blood vessels temporarily, and frequent alcohol consumption may lead to the appearance of thread veins on the face.


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