Sun exposure has long been known to increase your risk of skin cancer. But too much sun may also make spider veins worse by breaking down the collagen beneath the skin and the blood vessels near the surface of the skin.
Does Sun Exposure Cause Spider Veins?
Spider veins and varicose veins have many causes and risk factors, including:
- Genetics, meaning you may be more likely to get them if one or both of your parents have them
- Hormones, which can weaken the valves of the veins, including during puberty, pregnancy, menopause or while taking birth control pills
- Standing or sitting still for long periods of time, which makes it harder for blood to flow from the legs toward the heart
- Obesity, which makes it more difficult for the heart to pump blood
Sun exposure may also cause spider veins, especially on the noses or cheeks of fair-skinned people. These areas commonly receive more sun exposure than other parts of the body.
What Are Spider Veins?
Spider veins are a minor form of varicose veins. They appear on the skin’s surface as delicate red or blue lines, almost like spider webs. They may appear before larger varicose veins form. But they can also cause cosmetic concerns all on their own.
Spider veins and varicose veins occur on the legs and feet, although spider veins may also appear on other parts of the body. Both of these develop when the valves in veins stop working properly. This allows blood to flow backward down the leg. As the blood pools in the vein, the veins become swollen.
Although spider veins are mainly a cosmetic problem, they can cause other symptoms. This includes burning, aching or pain in the leg, especially after standing for long periods.
What Is Collagen?
Collagen is a connective tissue that supports your body by holding the parts together. It is found in joints, tendons, ligaments and even the eyes and bones.
Collagen is also an important part of your skin and blood vessels, where it provides strength and elasticity. When collagen starts to break down, the tissues become weaker. They may also stretch more without springing back. This includes your blood vessels, such as your veins and arteries.
Varicose veins and spider veins can have problems with the collagen structure that supports them. This may make them more likely to form.
How to Prevent Damage Caused by the Sun
The best way to decrease the risk of spider veins caused by sun exposure is to limit the time you spend in the sun. This is especially important between 10 am and 2 pm when the sun’s rays are strongest.
If you do go outside, cover as much of your body as possible with clothes. Wear long-sleeve shirts, pants and a wide-brimmed hat.
You should also wear sunscreen regularly when outside. Apply it 15 minutes before you go out in the sun and reapply at least every two hours.
Be sure to apply sunscreen to all exposed areas of skin, including your ears, nose, lips, neck, hands, arms, legs, feet and top of the head if you don’t have much hair.