Everything you need to know about Broken Capillaries

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Broken capillaries is a problem with the tiny blood vessels that become visible near the surface of the skin and usually appear as streaks or blotches. They are commonly known as spider veins because of their tree branch, or spider web-like, shape. Broken capillaries appear close to the skin surface and can be identified by their red or blue color.

Broken Capillaries on the face

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There are tiny and delicate veins just under the skin that are responsible for the blood circulation in the face. When the walls of these veins narrow and widen suddenly, breakage may occur. Some of these ruptured blood vessels cannot repair themselves or go back to their normal thickness without some kind of treatment. Spider veins can be found around the nose, cheeks and mouth, on the neck, as well as the upper chest and legs.

There are two types of broken blood vessels. The first kind is the fairly common bruising that takes the form of a purplish skin swelling. It is usually caused by some form of trauma to the skin and disappears in a couple of weeks without any treatment. The second is a blood spot that occurs just beneath the skin surface and looks like a red-colored spreading of cells. This can be caused by a number of factors, such as malnutrition, disease and other  problems that traumatize the body and the immune system.

People with fair skin are more prone to having broken capillaries, or telangiectasia, than people with a dark or olive complexion. People with dry and dehydrated skin, as well as very sensitive skin, have thinner and less protected layers of tissue, thus making them more susceptible to this problem.

  • Causes – There are several causes of broken capillaries.
  • Trauma – Any form of trauma or injury to the skin can rupture blood vessels. Examples are wounds, skin surgery or intense cosmetic treatments. Pressure applied on your nose due to glasses can also be a contributing factor.
  • Old age – As we become older, the collagen and elastin in our skin become weaker because they are not replenished as quickly. This, among other factors, causes the skin to become thinner and the veins are more noticeable. This also causes skin to lose flexibility and it gets bruised easily. Broken blood vessels are common in old age, however blood spots are not, and people of all age groups are equally vulnerable to them.
  • Genetics – It is possible that, if your grandparents and parents have broken capillaries on face or arms, you may have them too. It is not certain that you’ll develop the problem, but your chances are higher.
  • Hormones – People who are going through hormonal changes may experience spider veins as their body tries to adjust. This is the reason why broken capillaries on face and arms are more common in women than in men. Examples of periods of hormonal changes are puberty, pregnancy and menopause.
  • Environment – Environmental factors like sunburns, windburns or extremely cold conditions can lead to broken capillaries. Sunlight is known to aggravate this problem, therefore always use sunscreen before going out in the sun. Also moving from one extreme temperature area to another in a short period of time can be a contributing factor. If change in temperature is the causing factor in your case, you should stay away from saunas or very hot showers.
  • Medical conditions – Rosacea is a condition that makes the skin red and flushed. People who suffer from Rosacea tend to also suffer from broken capillaries on face and arms, especially around the nose and eye areas. Liver damage can also cause this condition.


There are several ingredients used in over-the-counter products such as anti redness creams that can be used to treat broken capillaries. A combination of ingredients in high concentrations is needed to effectively treat broken capillaries. If you’re worried about broken capillaries, you probably have fragile skin.

You should not scrub your face if you have broken blood vessel as it can cause them to spread. A salicylic acid based product can be used to remove dead cells. A dermatologist can suggest to you a treatment procedure that will work well for your situation, depending on the cause and extent of your broken capillaries.

We recommend the Advanced Dermatology Skin Care regimen.

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  1. Grant

    I just moved to the desert from the Northwest and have only been here a few weeks so far. After two weeks, I started to notice broken blood vessels on my nose, my face was flushed, and kind of burned. It is noticeably dryer here as well as warm but I’ve been using an extra sensitive moisturizer with spf in it and a natural face wash. In the last couple of weeks, I have noticed more around my cheeks and under my eyes. I haven’t changed my skin care regimen so the only thing I can think of is the heat. My face is also starting to look patchy. Has anyone experienced this with change in weather and does it go away? I grew up in the desert and never had this problem so I’m concerned that it might be a bigger health issue or maybe my skin is just more sensitive now? I’d appreciate any feedback. I can’t really afford expensive treatment and am hesitant to do it if it’s going to continue while I’m here (next few months). But it’s starting to become ugly and noticeable and I’d be more than happy to try something easy on my skin that’s affordable.

  2. MB72

    I have liver disease and have started to form obvious broken capillaries on my face , all over my legs and now on my chest, which is something doctors check for everytime i see heptologist.
    Will anything get rid of these when I go through treatment and rid my body of this disabling disease ? I am on disability and cannot afford IPL but i do not recognize myself. I am sure it is not from age but my liver. Anyone else have this from Liver problems? I do know I can heal from the underlying issues but is there any hope that I can get rid of these after i clear my liver disease or are they going to remain forever ?

  3. Anonymous

    I was told that extreme sports causes broken capillaries on the face, and my dermatologist advised me that lasers can eradicate the problem. It costs $700 for the full face and you need around 3 treatments. I am having my first treatment next Thursday. I hope this information helps.

  4. Wise

    Gentleyag is an older laser that strengthens the capillaries. Dermatologists use it for Rosacea. I’ve had IPL done and that works well on broken capillaries. You should also use Vitamin K topically to help strengthen the skin. Somebody else recommended that on this blog and I have been doing this for the last 8 months.

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