Quick Question: What Are Broken Capillaries?

December 04, 2019
Claudia Dimuro
By: Claudia Dimuro | skincare.com by L'Oréal
person looking at self in mirror

Whether it pertains to someone’s heart or their bones, the word “broken” very rarely bodes well and for the most part, the 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 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 them 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, but they 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. Other 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 time of year it is), and wear the proper protective clothing to ensure your skin is getting the utmost protection. Our go to for this is the La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50.

la roche posay anthelios mineral sunscreen spf 50

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, like the L’Oréal Paris 10% Pure Vitamin C Serum to help keep your skin looking healthy and to maintain an even, radiant tone.

loreal paris pure vitamin c serum

TIP 3: Be Gentle

Because 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. Reach for a soothing scrub like the Tula So Polished Exfoliating Sugar Scrub to ensure that your skin is left feeling soft, bright and smooth. Also make sure you know how to exfoliate properly and, should you be tempted, even learn how to pop a pimple the right way.

tula so polished exfoliating sugar scrub

TIP 4: Take Lukewarm Showers

If you’re the type of person who 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.

“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.

Photo: Shutterstock

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