Few things have the potential to be as shocking as looking at your skin in a lighted magnifying mirror. Suddenly, what you could have sworn was just regular-old skin looks more like a topographical map filled with divots, flaky patches, and teeny red tributaries that you’d need an aesthetician to traverse. On one of these up-close-and personal guided tours of your skin, your aesthetician might point out fields of broken capillaries — spidery, red splotches lying underneath your skin and making the overall landscape look a little rugged.
Capillaries are small blood vessels that connect arteries and veins. Broken capillaries on the face are often found on the cheeks and around the nose, and appear as small spidery red, pink or blue marks beneath the surface of the skin.
Skin structure and function
The skin is an organ that provides the outer protective wrapping for all the body parts. It is the largest organ in the body. It is a waterproof, airtight and flexible barrier between the environment and internal organs. It keeps the internal environment of our body stable. The skin is divided into 3 layers, the epidermis, the dermis and the subcutaneous layer.
Skin has three layers:
- The epidermis, the outermost layer of skin, provides a waterproof barrier and creates our skin tone.
- The dermis, beneath the epidermis, contains tough connective tissue, hair follicles, and sweat glands.
- The deeper subcutaneous tissue (hypodermis) is made of fat and connective tissue.
What are broken capillaries?
The small blood vessels connecting veins and arteries are known as capillaries. Essentially, broken capillaries are a cluster of tiny veins that have become dilated and “broken”, creating the appearance of a reddish bruise. Broken capillaries are commonly seen on the face and legs, and unfortunately, they will not fade away or heal with time.
Broken or dilated capillaries are tiny veins that appear on the face, most commonly around the nose and cheeks. While these spidery, reddish blemishes aren’t harmful, they can stand in the way of that clear, glowing complexion you’re looking for. They occur when the capillary walls expand and contract too quickly, causing them to tear and allowing blood to seep out. Thin, dehydrated, dry and sensitive skin provides less protection and are the most commonly effected. Once these broken vessels appear, they do not heal or disappear on their own. Luckily, treatment with laser or IPL is quick, safe and effective.
Risk factors could cause facial redness
- Hot drinks and spicy food
- Alcohol and cigarettes
- Exposure to the sun
- Health problems such as high blood pressure
- Rough and improper use of skin care products
- Exercise and work under high temperatures
- Extreme and sudden temperature changes
What are the causes of broken capillaries?
Broken capillaries are usually caused by something excessive. This could be excessive force, ie. when having a facial treatment carried out by someone who applies too much pressure, or excessive sun exposure, for example. Using extremely hot water to “steam” the face is an incredibly common cause of broken capillaries in Irish women. At-home, DIY facial steaming is not skin-friendly unless you are a professional – simple as. Facial scrubs can cause broken capillaries due to the physical trauma caused to the skin, especially if you’re using something with big, chunky grains… yet another reason to ditch the grit. Popping your own spots can also break blood vessels so you’re left with not only a sore spot but possible scarring and possible broken capillaries.
In general, broken capillaries are caused by either skin trauma—like squeezing a pimple too forcefully, intense microdermabrasion, or even sneezing—or by excessive dilation of the blood vessels from, say, taking hot showers, being in cold, wintery air, eating spicy foods, exercising, or drinking alcohol. Capillary walls are very elastic, and blood vessels can lose their ability to contract if they’re frequently dilated, causing them to remain enlarged.
Sadly, genetics play a major role in how susceptible you are to broken blood vessels, though they’re more common in anyone with sensitive skin, acne, or rosacea, and especially rampant in the winter, thanks to fluctuating hot-and-cold temps.
Home made remedies for broken blood vessels
- Wash your face with warm water
Since heat can cause broken blood vessels, you’ll want to make sure you avoid hot water. Take warm — not hot — baths and showers. Make sure you wash your face gently with warm water, too.
- Apple cider vinegar
This common pantry staple can lessen the appearance of spider veins by reducing redness and other related features. Use the vinegar in place of your daily toner or astringent by applying it with a cotton ball.
- Horse chestnut
This herb is used for a variety of skin ailments. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health explains that some people use it for vein health. While available as a supplement, topical forms of horse chestnut may be safer for the treatment of spider veins. Look for preparations made from the bark only, and apply these to your face.
Wear sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun and to limit spider veins on the face. Exercise regularly to improve your leg strength, circulation, and vein strength. Focus on exercises that work your legs, such as walking or running. Control your weight to avoid placing too much pressure on your legs, and alternate the pressure on your legs when standing up for a long time.
Additionally, horse chestnut extract has been shown to aid with poor circulation by strengthening blood vessels. Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) is a plant extract available as supplements or topical gel.
When it comes to preventing broken capillaries, simple lifestyle advice offers the best protection.