What Are the Causes of Broken Blood Vessels on The Face?

Fine, spidery blood vessels on the face -- referred to as facial telangiectasia -- are a common cosmetic complaint. They are often described as broken blood vessels, but are actually blood vessels that have enlarged and aggregated near the surface of the skin. They appear most commonly on the chin, cheeks and nose, and can be caused by a number of factors. Facial telangiectasia are usually meaningless, but some can be caused by an underlying medical condition.

Avoiding sun exposure is one way to avoid broken blood vessels on the face. (Image: Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Alcohol Use

Chronic alcohol intake can cause blood pressure to go up and enlarge the blood vessels. When this occurs frequently, the delicate blood vessels of the face can stay enlarged and remain readily visible at the skin's surface. According to a review published Clinical Dermatology, excessive alcohol intake can also worsen other skin conditions such as psoriasis, resulting in further redness and inflammation.

Aging

As we age, our skin gets thinner, allowing the blood vessels beneath the skin surface to become more visible. In turn, those blood vessels are also thinner, making them more prone to break and take on a spidery appearance. The American Academy of Dermatology suggests that this natural thinning process can be managed with a comprehensive anti-aging skin care plan directed by a dermatologist.

Pregnancy

According to a review published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, facial spider veins are reported in a majority of pregnant women. This is due to the fact that overall blood flow is increased during pregnancy, and the delicate vessels of the face are prone to enlargement and breakage. Similarly, the hormonal changes associated with puberty and menopause can increase telangiectasia as well.

Sun Exposure

Skin damage caused by chronic sun exposure often results in broken blood vessels across the cheeks, nose and chin. A 2013 study published by the American Association for Cancer Research also found that the presence of facial telangiectasia in sun damaged skin can be associated with a higher risk of basal cell carcinoma, a particular kind of skin cancer.

Rosacea

Visible blood vessels on the face are reported to be a primary sign of rosacea. Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the skin that results in redness and flushing of the face and an increase in visible broken blood vessels. Rosacea is treated with skin care regimens, prescription medicines and the avoidance of triggers that can worsen the condition.

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