Broken veins are small, dilated blood vessels, which are visable on the surface of the skin and are usually red or purple in appearance. They are also known as thread veins, spider veins, broken capillaries and telangiectasia. They are most commonly found on the legs and on the face, specifically around the nose and on the cheeks. They are harmless, but when they present on the legs can sometimes be an indication of underlying varicose veins.
Broken veins can appear for no reason at all, although there are certain factors that are linked to them. Genetics are thought to play a part as well as hormonal changes in the body, such as during pregnancy, and the ageing process. Alcohol is also attributed with the formation of dilated blood vessels, particularly on the cheeks or around the nose, known as "drinkers nose". Standing and sitting for long periods of time can also increase the likelihood of getting broken veins.
Broken veins are most commonly found on the legs and on the face, particularly on the cheeks and nose.
Anyone can get broken veins but their incidence increases with age. They are also more common in women with one in five women over the age of 20 being thought to suffer from them. People who consume a lot of alcohol are also more susceptible.