How can I prevent varicose veins and spider veins?

Edward V. Ross Jr., MD

There a number of causes for varicose and spider veins: age, sun, hormone changes, genetics, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. Preventing vein conditions involves counteracting these whenever possible. Wear sunscreen, especially on the face, which is susceptible to spider veins. Exercise your legs. Keep your weight down. Don’t sit or stand still for long periods. Get up and move around periodically. If sitting, elevate your legs when you can. Avoid high heels. Finally, eat well. That includes foods that are high in fiber and low in salt: Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are recommended.

A proactive approach can reduce the impact of venous disease and prevent outbreaks of varicose and spider veins. Keep your veins healthy by exercising regularly, wearing support hose or compression socks, elevating your feet above your heart, moisturizing skin, treating fungal infections immediately, maintaining a healthy weight and lowering your salt intake.
The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Nor does the contents of this website constitute the establishment of a physician patient or therapeutic relationship. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Genetics play a major role when it comes to varicose veins. Although you can't change your family tree, there are easy ways to minimize the risk of these unsightly veins, which vascular surgeon Dr. Steve Elias details in this video.

Not all varicose and spider veins can be prevented. But some things can reduce your chances of getting new varicose and spider veins. These same things can help ease discomfort from the ones you already have:

- 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.
- Do not cross your legs when sitting.
- Elevate your legs when resting as much as possible.
- Do not stand or sit for long periods of time. If you must stand for a long time, shift your weight from one leg to the other every few minutes. If you must sit for long periods of time, stand up and move around or take a short walk every 30 minutes.
- Wear elastic support stockings and avoid tight clothing that constricts your waist, groin, or legs.
- Eat a low-salt diet rich in high-fiber foods. Eating fiber reduces the chances of constipation which can contribute to varicose veins. High fiber foods include fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains, like bran. Eating too much salt can cause you to retain water or swell.

This answer is based on source information from The National Women's Health Information Center.

Dr. Ellen Marmur, MD
Muscle movement during exercise assists the circulation by squeezing the blood upward. So a regular exercise program - whether it's walking, running, swimming, or biking - will help greatly. Standing in one place for long periods of time can increase the risk of developing the condition if you are already predisposed. So if you work at a job where you're on your feet for hours, you could be at risk. And yes, crossing your legs constantly may increase spider veins too, as it compresses the vessels and causes engorgement in the lower leg.
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Continue Learning about Spider Veins and Varicose Veins

Spider Veins and Varicose Veins

Large twisted blue or purplish veins visible at the skins surface are known as varicose veins. Any vein in your body can become varicose but it usually occurs in the legs and feet due to the pressure the lower body endures to keep ...

your body upright. It is caused by the weakening of the valves and veins in your legs. Varicose veins are usually hereditary. We are also more prone to get varicose veins as we age. Symptoms include itching, burning, throbbing or cramping in the legs and around the veins. Self-care measures such as exercising, elevating your legs, and wearing compression stockings are used to ease the pain and prevent varicose veins from getting worse. If these measures dont work, see your doctor to discuss medical treatments that are available to close or remove varicose veins.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.