Ask the Expert: What Are Broken Capillaries?
If you hear something’s “broken,” you know that it can’t be good. Whether it pertains to someone’s heart or their bones, the word “broken” very rarely bodes well. Same thing goes for your skin. If something on your skin is said to have broken (or “ruptured”), your brain probably jumps to the worst possible conclusion. Here’s a quick test—how does the phrase ‘broken capillaries’ sound to you? Probably not that great.
Keep in mind, though, that the thing about something being “broken” is that there’s usually a way to fix it. And the good news about broken capillaries is that they aren’t nearly as devastating as they sound. We tapped into board-certified dermatologist, and Skincare.com consultant, Dr. Julia Tzu to get to the bottom of what broken capillaries are, what causes broken capillaries, and how to prevent them.
What Are Broken Capillaries?
Capillaries are the smallest type of blood vessels in the human body. It’s in capillaries where oxygen, nutrients, and wastes are exchanged between your blood and tissues. Before you go into panic mode upon hearing how such vital parts of the anatomy can break, Dr. Tzu wants you to know that your capillaries aren’t actually broken despite the name. In fact, they’re perfectly fine.
“’Broken capillaries’ (or ‘telangiectasias’) are essentially tiny red surface vessels on the skin,” she says. “They have a variety of appearances and can range from small, squiggly red lines to small red dots.” Broken capillaries are also typically harmless. “They’re not a serious condition at all,” says Dr. Tzu, “but can be a serious cosmetic issue for the beauty-conscious.”
What Causes Broken Capillaries?
There are actually a few causes behind broken capillaries, and a couple are very similar to the causes behind other skin conditions. Dr. Tzu lists sun exposure, aging (when most people start to see those spider veins), and genetics as a few, each a common proponent behind broken capillaries. Others causes can include pregnancy (quite the opposite of that “pregnancy glow”) as well as any trauma that would cause the vessels to become agitated.
How to Prevent Broken Capillaries
Due to their natural occurrence, Dr. Tzu states that broken capillaries can be difficult to prevent. But that certainly doesn’t mean it’s not possible.
Tip #1: Sun Protection
Being careful in the sun (as well as any time afterwards) can help you avoid so many issues in the future. Broken capillaries are one of them. Take care to apply sunscreen before going about your day (no matter what the time of year it is), and wear the proper protective clothing to ensure your skin is getting the upmost protection.
Tip #2: Anti-Aging Products
Since broken capillaries can be a result of aging, using anti-aging products could help. Try using products with ingredients such as vitamin C to help keep your skin looking healthy and to maintain an even, radiant tone.
Tip #3: Be Gentle
Since trauma can also cause capillaries to break, be mindful of how rough you’re treating your skin during your daily routine. Exfoliating too hard, scrubbing aggressively, and even popping your pimples can cause broken capillaries to appear on your skin. Make sure you know how to exfoliate properly and, should you be tempted, even learn how to pop a pimple the right way.
Tip #4: Take Lukewarm Showers
If you’re the type of person that likes to take scalding hot showers, they may be the reason why those broken capillaries are popping up as blemishes on your skin. Heat speeds up the blood pumping through your veins, giving broken capillaries ample opportunity to become apparent. Make sure the water you’re using during showering or even to rinse your face is lukewarm to avoid that ruddiness.
How to Address Broken Capillaries
For people with many of these broken bloody vessels, removing them can make a remarkable difference on the clarity of their complexion.
“For people with many of these broken bloody vessels, removing them can make a remarkable difference on the clarity of their complexion,” says Dr. Tzu. Should you be one of these people, you may want to try a professional laser treatment. According to Dr. Tzu, “There are specific laser treatments that are extremely effective in eliminating broken capillaries.” These are performed in-office and are very seldom invasive. In fact, Dr. Tzu herself treats broken capillaries on the face and neck on a routine basis at her own office. When in doubt, consult your dermatologist for help addressing the look of your broken capillaries.