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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:49 pm
Telangiectasias (TEHL-an-jee-hk-TAY-zhuhz) are red spider veins that most often occur on the face, especially around the nose or cheeks. They may also be present on the neck or upper chest. Telangiectasias occur when excess blood flow or pressure dilate tiny veins near the skin's surface, making them visible. They usually appear in people who have fair skin and are prone to flushing or blushing. The veins can take several forms, including short lines, branches, red specks, or spider-like patterns with radiating arms. These vessels are sometimes mistakenly described as broken blood vessels, but in truth, they're only enlarged. The exact cause of telangiectasias is unknown. Vein weakness plays a role, but unlike spider veins in the legs, valve problems are not involved. However, telangiectasias may be encouraged or worsened by sun exposure; hot, spicy foods; hormonal changes; overuse of steroid creams; and skin disorders like rosacea (rose-AY-shuh). Drinking alcohol does not cause these dilated vessels. Telangiectasias usually have no medical importance, but if their appearance bothers you, they may be treated with sclerotherapy (sklair-oh-THAIR-uh-pee) injections or laser. Wearing sunscreen may also discourage their formation.

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