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Perhaps the best known of the three conditions is varicose veins. These essentially are abnormally enlarged blood vessels filled with pooled blood. This pooling happens when vein leaflets fail to meet properly, prohibiting them from pumping blood upwards toward the heart. With no place to go, blood flows backward and pools in the varicose veins, causing them to swell above the surface. Varicose veins are greater than 3 mm in diameter and most often are found on the backs of the calves or the inside of the leg.
Also called reticular veins, feeder veins and intradermal varices, blue veins are the stretched-out blue and green veins that show through the surface of the skin. This happens when the superficial veins become engorged with deoxygenated blood. Blue veins differ from varicose veins in that they range from 1 mm to less than 3mm in diameter.
Spider veins are very similar to varicose veins, but are much smaller, measuring less than 1mm in diameter, and are closer to the skin’s surface. They share the same cause – pooling of blood in the veins due to weakened valves. And they most commonly appear on the legs. Spider veins, however, are most common in specific parts of the leg, including the upper thigh, the area around the knee joint, calf and ankles.
Resolve to reach and maintain a healthy weight: This helps you avoid putting too much pressure on your legs. Not only does that help avoid spider and varicose veins, but it also will help keep your knees strong.
Resolve to exercise daily: Choose exercises or activities that strengthen your legs and veins and improve circulation. Walking, running, dancing and rock climbing are great choices, especially if you’d rather skip the gym.
Resolve to eat better: A low-sodium, high-fiber diet will help reduce the chances of constipation, which can contribute to varicose veins, and control the unsightly and uncomfortable swelling that often accompanies varicose veins.
Protect Your Skin Sunscreen will help protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays and limit spider veins caused by sun damage on your face. It is recommended to use a quality sunscreen regularly. Look for one with Broad-Spectrum SPF value of 15 or higher, such as Day Moisturizer & Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30ml.
Breathe Clean Whether you are a smoker or not, it is important to review how smoking can affect leg health. Smoking or being around secondhand smoke damages the body’s vascular system. Smokers are at risk for all vascular diseases including peripheral arterial disease, stroke, heart attack, abdominal aortic aneurysm. For more information on how to quit smoking or to get information to give someone who wants to quit, visit smokefree.gov.
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