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What Causes Broken Blood Vessels on the Face?

Medically reviewed by William Truswell, MD

Broken blood vessels, also known as spider veins, can occur in most body areas. When they appear on the face, they usually look like small, red lines that spread into a webbed shape. They also commonly develop in the legs.

Anyone can experience broken blood vessels in the face. Your risk may be higher if you have certain chronic health conditions such as rosacea. It is important to see a healthcare provider to learn the cause of broken blood vessels and how to treat them. Several treatment options are available.

This article will provide an overview of broken blood vessels on the face, including the causes and treatment options.

What Causes Broken Blood Vessels on the Face?

A variety of factors can lead to broken blood vessels on the face. Your risk may be higher if you have experienced any of the following:

  • Genetics: If you have a family member with broken blood vessels or spider veins, your risk of developing them is higher.
  • Age and sun exposure: Solar purpura is a condition in which blood vessels leak under the skin, especially in older people and in areas of skin that have had a lot of sun exposure.
  • Weather changes: Spending time in extreme heat causes the blood vessels to dilate and may make them more noticeable under the skin.
  • Changes in pressure: A sudden change in air pressure (such as in diving or flying) may cause blood vessels in the face to break and look more visible.
  • Pregnancy: During pregnancy, increased levels of estrogen raise the risk of broken blood vessels. They usually resolve on their own after delivery.
  • Environmental or chemical irritants: Being exposed to environmental or chemical irritants near the face may lead to broken blood vessels.
  • Rosacea: Rosacea is a common skin condition that causes facial redness, flushing, swelling, and visible blood vessels.
  • Alcohol consumption: Drinking alcohol causes the skin to flush and blood vessels to dilate. Over time, binge drinking can lead to spider veins in the body.
  • Head injuries: Any injury to the face can cause bruising and make the blood vessels more visible.
  • Vomiting or sneezing: Vomiting or a strong sneeze can cause increased pressure in the face. This pressure can cause the blood vessels to break.

How Are Broken Blood Vessels on the Face Diagnosed?

Broken blood vessels or spider veins in the face are common and usually harmless. You may be able to identify them at home based on their appearance. They look like fine red lines that form a web pattern on the skin.

If you are uncomfortable with the appearance of facial spider veins, consider seeing a healthcare provider. They will likely refer you to a dermatologist (a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of skin conditions) or a facial plastic surgeon (a medical doctor who treats structures of the head and neck).

A dermatologist can diagnose spider veins with a physical exam. Tests used to evaluate veins in the body include an ultrasound and venogram. In most cases, a dermatologist diagnoses broken blood vessels in the face by examining them.

Home Remedies for Broken Blood Vessels on the Face

You may be curious about trying home remedies to treat your spider veins. Because most home remedies have not been proven effective or safe, talk with a healthcare provider first.

Avoiding Hot Water and Extreme Temperatures

Use warm water in the shower and when washing your face. Hot water can cause broken blood vessels because it causes the blood vessels to dilate and become more noticeable.

Cold Compress for Immediate Relief

Because heat dilates (widens) blood vessels, try a cold compress to cause blood vessels to constrict (narrow). This can provide soothing relief and make blood vessels less visible.

Apple Cider Vinegar

A 2016 study found that applying apple cider vinegar to the skin may decrease the appearance of spider veins and improve skin redness. Consider starting with a very small amount of diluted apple cider vinegar to see how your skin responds to it.

Arnica Oil

Arnica is an herb that has been used for pain relief in the past, especially in homeopathic medicine. It may contain anti-inflammatory compounds that are effective for skin conditions like spider veins. Arnica oil is available as a topical treatment. Do not use arnica oil if you are pregnant or have certain plant allergies.

Witch Hazel

Witch hazel is a natural remedy made from a plant. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved witch hazel as an ingredient in over-the-counter (OTC) skin products. Applying witch hazel to the skin may reduce inflammation.

Talk with a healthcare provider about how much witch hazel to use on your skin.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is a plant with long, thick leaves that contain a gel that can be applied to the skin. This gel has been used to treat several skin conditions like sunburns, frostbite, and bedsores. Aloe vera is also a common ingredient in facial cleansers and moisturizers. Start with a small amount and go up from there.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient that has several skin benefits including reduced inflammation, improved wound healing, and increased hydration. It has been found to protect against sun damage which may reduce the risk of broken blood vessels on the face.

Talk with a dermatologist about adding a skin serum with vitamin C to your skincare routine.


Several types of plants and herbs may be beneficial for skin health. For example, horse chestnut is an herb that can be applied directly to the skin and may treat skin issues like broken blood vessels. Talk with a dermatologist before using herbs on your skin daily.

Medical Treatments for Broken Blood Vessels on the Face

If home remedies and lifestyle changes have not improved the appearance of broken blood vessels on your face, you may consider seeing a dermatologist for prescription treatments and procedures.


Retinoids are compounds in vitamin A that have been used to treat skin conditions like rosacea and acne. They may reduce the appearance of broken blood vessels in the face. They work by removing the outermost layer of skin. Ask your dermatologist for retinoid product recommendations.

Laser therapy

Laser therapy uses intense, narrow beams of coherent light (the peaks and troughs of the light waves are lined up) to minimize the appearance of spider veins on the skin. It may also be used to destroy veins that are not functioning properly. Your dermatologist may recommend several sessions of laser therapy to treat your spider veins.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) therapy

Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy uses a light that penetrates the first layer of skin without harming it. It reaches the second layer of skin to treat inflammatory skin conditions like acne, rosacea, and psoriasis. Ask your dermatologist or facial plastic surgeon if IPL could be an option for the broken blood vessels on your face.


Sclerotherapy is a spider vein treatment that uses injections. A dermatologist injects a solution into the broken blood vessels that causes them to close. Once the blood vessels have closed, the blood reroutes to other blood vessels. This lessens the appearance of spider veins in the skin.

How to Prevent Broken Blood Vessels From Forming on Your Face

Fortunately, preventing or lowering the risk of developing broken blood vessels in your face is possible. To reduce your risk of spider veins in your face, consider the following tips:

  • Limit your sunlight exposure.
  • Always wear sunscreen and a hat when spending time outdoors.
  • Try to limit the amount of time you spend in extreme heat.
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation or avoid it.
  • Wear protective gear when engaging in sports.
  • Follow your dermatologist’s treatment plan.


Broken blood vessels, also known as spider veins, are common and usually harmless. On the face, they appear as fine, red lines that form a web pattern. Possible causes of broken blood vessels on the face are genetics, skin conditions such as rosacea, and environmental factors like sunlight exposure.

See a dermatologist or facial plastic surgeon if you are interested in treating the broken blood vessels on your face. Treatment options include retinoids, laser therapy, intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy, and sclerotherapy. Natural remedies may be helpful but require more research. See a healthcare provider for next steps.

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