Advice Clinic

Broken Capillaries – Most Common Causes and How to Treat Them

What are capillaries?

Capillaries are tiny blood vessels. They connect veins and arteries. When they get enlarged or dilated and because they sit just underneath the surface of the skin, at first glance they look like tiny red splotches. If you inspect them further, you will see they look like thin spidery lines. Typically, they appear around the nose, mouth or cheeks.

Why do capillaries get enlarged/dilated/broken?

Genetics – if you have fair skin, thin skin, and/or if someone in your family suffered from a similar problem, chances are you have it too.

Various skin conditions – if you suffer from rosacea or if you have particularly sensitive skin, you might be more susceptible.

Sun damage – sun damage will thin out the dermis over time and cause the capillaries to become more prominent.

Age – as we age our skin becomes thinner. Our levels of collagen, elastin and Hyaluronic acid get depleted and the capillaries become more prominent.

External factors – extreme changes in temperature, windburn, drinking, and smoking can all make you more susceptible.

Skin trauma – sometimes broken capillaries can occur if you, for example, squeeze a spot too hard.

For people who already have broken capillaries staying in the sun for too long, or any of the external factors can make them even worse.

How can you prevent broken capillaries?

The number one would be being diligent about sun protection. The preventative measures include applying your SPF on a daily basis, staying out of the sun and wearing a protective hat.

Some dermatologists might recommend using a retinol serum. Numerous studies have shown retinol has a beneficial effect on the skin. It sustains collagen, minimises the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and can be used to treat anything from acne and eczema to sun damage. Not to mention it targets the signs of aging. It might not prevent broken capillaries per se, but it can considerably improve the overall skin health and as such can be beneficial.

How can you treat broken capillaries?

No topical treatment can tackle broken capillaries with noticeable effect. The sole option is laser treatment. Before you decide on the best laser treatment, consult with a dermatologist. An alternative to a laser treatment is the Intense Pulse Light (IPL). It can minimise the appearance of redness and also treat existing sun damage. Both might require a number of sessions to achieve desired results.

Things to keep in mind when you have broken capillaries

Be gentle with your skin. Use gentle cleansers with lukewarm water.
Be diligent about your sunscreen and protect your face in extreme heat or cold.
If you are scheduling a visit to a facialist, make sure to mention your skin is prone to broken capillaries. They can adjust the treatment accordingly to prevent any further trauma to the skin.

Do you have a problem with broken capillaries? How do you treat them?

About the author

Roberta Striga

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