Are Spider Veins Hereditary?

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You’ve got your mother’s eye color and your dad’s curly hair, but can you also inherit your parents’ spider veins? As it turns out, heredity is indeed a factor. However, whether or not you develop spider veins isn’t necessarily cut and dried. There are several other factors involved that can either raise or lower your risk for developing spider veins.        

The Genetic Factor

Spider veins, sometimes referred to by the medical community as telangiectasias, are a form of vein disease that results in clusters of tiny blood vessels appearing near the surface of the skin. Usually found either on the legs or face, these vessels can be red, blue or even purple and often look like spider webs. Spider veins are closely related to varicose veins, which can also appear near the surface of the skin but are much larger and are often painful in addition to being unsightly. 

According to a scientific review of several international studies on the familial component of varicose veins, there is strong evidence supporting heredity as a risk factor. A study in Japan revealed 42 percent of women diagnosed with varicose veins had a positive family history while a study in France reported that when both parents had varicose veins, patients had a 90 percent chance of developing the condition themselves. What’s more, the scientific review discovered a tangible link between varicose veins and a variety of genetic disorders.       

Other Risk Factors

While there’s little doubt that spider veins can be hereditary, there are also several other causes and risk factors such as:

  • Obesity
  • Injury or trauma to the skin
  • Standing for long periods of time
  • Use of oral contraceptives
  • Hormonal changes and pregnancy
  • Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays
  • Age and gender

According to WebMD, the frequency of spider and varicose veins increases with age, with the condition appearing more frequently in women than in men.

Preventing Vein Disease

The good news is even if spider veins or varicose veins run in your family, there are steps you can take to lower your risk and tip the odds in your favor:

  • Wear sunscreen to protect your skin from UV rays.
  • Exercise regularly, focusing on exercises that work the legs such as walking or running. Regular exercise will help strengthen your veins and circulation as well as improve your overall fitness.
  • Avoid either standing or sitting for long periods of time. If standing for long periods is unavoidable, make sure to shift your weight from one leg to the other several times an hour. If you are required to sit for long periods, make sure to get up every half hour to stretch and walk around.

While following these recommendations can certainly help, if you still develop spider veins there are a wide variety of vein treatments available such as laser treatment, which is much less invasive than treatments used to be with a much shorter recovery time.