About varicose veins


The NHS describe Varicose veins as swollen and enlarged ones usually occurring on the legs and feet. They may be blue or dark purple, and are often lumpy, bulging or twisted in appearance.

Some other symptoms are:

·        aching, heavy and uncomfortable legs

·        swollen feet and ankles

·        burning or throbbing in your legs

·        muscle cramps in your legs, particularly at night

·        dry, itchy and thin skin over the affected vein

These symptoms can worsen during warmer weather or if you’ve been standing for long periods. Walking and raising your legs could relieve some symptoms.

Causes of varicose veins

Varicose veins develop when the small valves within the veins, stop working as they should.

A healthy vein allows blood to flow smoothly to the heart. The blood is then unable to flow backwards, due to tiny valves that open and close to let the blood through.

However, damage to these valves can cause blood to flow backwards and be collected in the vein. This causes swelling and enlargement (varicose).

Several factors can increase the chances of developing varicose veins:

  • being female
  • having a close family member with varicose veins
  • being older
  • being overweight
  • having a job that involves long periods of standing
  • being pregnant
  • other conditions


Treatment of varicose veins

If you need treatment your doctor may first recommend using compression stockings, taking regular exercise and elevating the affected area when resting. 

If your varicose veins are still causing you pain or discomfort, or they cause complications, they can be treated in several ways.

Learn more

Prevention of varicose veins:

Unfortunately, there is not much evidence to suggest you can stop the worsening of varicose veins or the development of new varicose veins.

Although, there are ways to ease symptoms of existing varicose veins, such as:

·        avoiding standing or sitting still for long periods and trying to move around every 30 minutes

·        taking regular breaks throughout the day, raising the legs on pillows while resting to ease discomfort

·        exercising regularly – this can improve circulation and help maintain a healthy weight

Types of varicose veins:

Trunk varicose veins

These are near to the surface of the skin and are thick and knobbly; they're often long and can look unpleasant


Reticular varicose veins

These are red and sometimes grouped close together in a network

Telangiectasia varicose veins 

Also known as thread veins or spider veins, these are small clusters of blue or red veins that sometimes appear on your face or legs; they're harmless and, unlike trunk varicose veins, do not bulge underneath the surface of the skin