Does the Sun Cause Spider Veins and Varicose Veins?

“Does the sun cause spider veins and varicose veins?”

Great question — and one our patients have been asking more frequently lately.

Short answer: No. The sun itself does not cause spider veins or varicose veins.  But it sure can make them pop up in all their glory. And ache and hurt too.

But it’s summer! We want tan legs!

Sure a nice tan can make us feel healthier and give the allusion of slimmer, more toned, bump-and-lump-free legs. But the sun – and its sidekick, heat — can make things uncomfortable for you and your veins during these hot Houston summer months, especially if you suffer with vein disease, a progressive medical condition caused by venous reflux.

So why is this?

Sun versus Heat (sounds like a must-see NBA match-up, doesn’t it?!)

High temps brought on by the sun make our bodies go into cooling mode. And one way the body cools itself is to dilate the superficial veins (varicose veins and spider veins are superficial) and bring them closer to the surface to help radiate heat from the body. This is usually fine as long as you don’t have vein disease. If you do, though, you’re very likely to notice the signs  – your legs are feeling more tired and achy and your varicose and spider veins are swelling and bulging, saying “Look at me, everybody!”

They were having fun until those nasty bulging veins showed up.

Now let’s not blame all this summer vein pain and suffering on heat alone. The sun does its own kind of damage with its powerful UV rays. Prolonged sun exposure weakens the skin’s surface, diminishing moisture and elasticity. Once that happens – the superficial veins begin to struggle and have no wiggle room so the blood that these veins are carrying starts to seep into surrounding areas, causing spider vein clusters to form if you’re so predisposed by genetics or other causes. 

Sun protection is vein protection too.

Lathering up with a broad-spectrum sunscreen (one that protects against UVA and UVB rays) and wearing pants or skirts (linen and cotton are summer-friendly fabrics) can help keep vein bulging and painful, irritating vein disease symptoms on the down low during the summer.

And if you’ve just gotta go for the bronze right now, consider using a self-tanning lotion like Jergens Natural Glow and Protect with added SPF.

jergens natural glow + protect
The safer, cooler, more vein-friendly alternative to tan your gams this summer.

 Don’t suffer with tired, aching, bulging summer legs. It could be vein disease causing your irritation and pain. Give us a call at 281-565-0033 and schedule an appointment to have your legs checked by one of our Houston vein specialists. There are multiple Hamilton Vein Center locations serving the greater Houston area — one near you!