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Spider veins are visible red or blue blood vessels that spread like a web across the skin, commonly on the face and legs. They are not usually harmful but they can be painful.

Varicose veins can indicate poor vascular health if the swelling is caused by phlebitis (inflamed tender vein), thrombosis (clot), or venous stasis ulcers (open sores).

It is not entirely known what causes spider and varicose veins, although likely factors are heredity, pregnancy and hormones. Women are more likely than men to develop problems — more than 20 percent of women suffer from mild to severe varicose veins.

The standard treatment for spider and varicose veins is sclerotherapy. A special solution is injected into the blood vessel, which then collapses and is absorbed by the body. Alternative treatments include laser or intense pulsed light therapy, surgical stripping and ambulatory phlebectomy.

Spider and varicose veins may be prevented by wearing sunscreen on the face, exercising regularly, controlling your weight, elevating legs when resting, not crossing the legs when sitting, avoiding long periods of standing, wearing elastic support stockings, and eating high-fiber foods.