Broken Capillaries: Why You’re More Likely To Get Them In Winter

By December 22, 2017Skin Conditions

Telangiectasia. What the feck does that mean? Well, telangiectasia is the medical term for what is most commonly known as broken capillaries. So many of us have broken capillaries – they are, unfortunately, a part of life, and even though we can try our best to avoid them, there is no fail-safe way to guarantee that you will never get a broken capillary. What’s worse is that they are so noticeable on the icy-pale Celtic skin and very often appear in the area that people look at most often, being below the under-eye area and the nose.

If you are not sure what a broken capillary looks like, it usually looks like a spidery cluster of red lines close to the skin’s surface. They can range from being teeny tiny dots to spreading in lines across the face. They are not painful, but they certainly are a pain as they are difficult to reduce the appearance of.

What happens is that these close-to-surface veins, in all of their delicateness, are easily traumatised. A number of things can cause a capillary to dilate to the point in which they cannot constrict again. In this sense, they are not truly BROKEN, they are just stretched beyond their usual capacity. A capillary that has not become damaged, due to whichever factor, is elastic so that it can constrict and dilate for the purpose of blood flow. When damaged, the capillary loses this elasticity and remains in the state of over-dilation, meaning it appears in its bruise-like form.

What are the causes of broken capillaries?

Broken capillaries are usually caused by something excessive. This could be excessive force, ie. when having a facial treatment carried out by someone who applies too much pressure, or excessive sun exposure, for example. Using extremely hot water to “steam” the face is an incredibly common cause of broken capillaries in Irish women. At-home, DIY facial steaming is not skin-friendly unless you are a professional – simple as. Facial scrubs can cause broken capillaries due to the physical trauma caused to the skin, especially if you’re using something with big, chunky grains… yet another reason to ditch the grit. Popping your own spots can also break blood vessels so you’re left with not only a sore spot but possible scarring and possible broken capillaries.

broken capillaries winter

Increased blood pressure can also contribute to the formation of broken capillaries because when your blood pressure is higher, the capillaries in your face dilate more often and the capillaries may begin to lose their elasticity over time. Think about an overstretched rubber band that you’ve used again and again for years… is it box-fresh after so much time? No.

During the ageing process, the walls of the capillaries become more lax, meaning that they struggle to constrict. As you know, this could mean broken capillary city. As well as this, it may lead to them becoming more noticeable due to the decrease in collagen and elastin synthesis in the skin which subsequently leads to thinning of the skin.

Also, in the grand tradition of skin concerns, you are more likely to have them if your parental hoomans before you have had them too.

Why they are more common in Winter

There is actually more than one reason why broken capillaries are more likely to occur in Winter.

  • Your body struggles to adjust to temperate in Winter
    • Heart attacks, like broken capillaries, are more common in Winter and for the same reason. A sudden heightening or dropping of temperature means that the body has to put in more effort to regulate its temperature. Blood vessels, which capillaries are just smaller versions of, constrict to preserve heat in the body. So when you jump from being out in the cold to being in your lovely, warm home, your capillaries rapidly go from constricted to dilated, putting them under more pressure and possibly causing them damage. This is why I always say to avoid really hot showers – go for as close to lukewarm as possible as it is much less damaging to the skin in general.
  • Colds and coughs can cause broken capillaries
    • Blowing your nose causes capillaries to dilate and if you’re doing it too frequently, bingo: broken capillaries. The same goes for severe coughing unfortunately. I am not saying you should let your nose run freeeeeee but if you can, avoid over-blowing or try to prevent colds by boosting your immune system with nutrients.

What you can do to prevent broken capillaries

As I’ve said up there somewhere, there is no truly guaranteed way to prevent broken capillaries. What you CAN do is strengthen your capillaries with vitamin C. Vitamin C is a wonder vitamin for the skin and will tackle the causes of broken capillaries in NUMEROUS different ways. For one thing, vitamin C has antioxidant qualities, meaning it prevents the skin from rapidly ageing. One point to vitamin C. Vitamin C promotes the body’s natural synthesis of collagen, which will help the skin stay plump for longer. Two points to vitamin C. Collagen is also the main structural component of capillary walls, so taking vitamin C orally can stop them from becoming fragile! Three points to vitamin C!

It could be worth it to consider investing in a vitamin C serum for on top. For more info, have a read of this article of mine on vitamin C!

How to treat broken capillaries

Broken capillaries are real clingers. You can help to prevent them with home skincare and reduce their appearance but to make a real difference, you would need to have laser or light-based treatments.

  • Laser vein removal
    • A laser set to a specific wavelength pulses energy directly at the capillary without affecting the surrounding area. The energy is absorbed by the hemoglobin in the blood, which causes the blood to vaporise. When the blood has vaporised, the capillary collapses and the body will gradually dissolve up what is left of the capillary. It is a little gruesome to think about, but as a treatment, it is so targeted and effective. There is some mild discomfort but minimal downtime – it’s recommended you take some time to cool the area afterwards but hypothetically, you could go straight back to work right after.
  • IPL
    • IPL, also known as Intense Pulsed Light, works in nearly the same way as laser except that medical-grade laser is direct, whereas IPL is scattered wavelengths being pulsed into the skin.

When it comes to having this type of treatment done, bear in mind that they are expensive but they are a permanent solution. The amount of treatments you need would be determined by the technician and it would vary depending on severity. Different capillaries can break after the treatment as laser and light treatments do not prevent that, however.

Please remember that broken capillaries, like many skin concerns, are less visible to others than they are to yourself. If you don’t believe me and have a broken capillary, ask someone close to you if they’ve ever noticed it before that moment – tenner bets that they haven’t.

The Nerdie Recap

  • Broken capillaries are capillaries dilated to the point of which they cannot constrict again
  • They are infamously tricky to get rid of
  • Vitamin C can help with prevention
  • IPL and laser could be the solution
Jennifer Rock

About Jennifer Rock

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