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Author: A/Prof Amanda Oakley, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand, 2014.
Telangiectasia is a condition in which there are visible small linear red blood vessels (broken capillaries). These are also called telangiectases. Visible small blood vessels that are blue in colour (spider veins) are called venulectasia because venules are involved.
Telangiectases need to be distinguished from other vascular conditions, including blood vessel tumours such as infantile haemangioma and angiomas that arise in adults; and capillary or venous vascular malformations.
Large red blood vessels are arteries and large blue blood vessels are veins. Arteries may be enlarged due to aneurysm formation. Veins enlarged due to the destruction of their valvular system are known as varicose veins.
Note that telangiectasia may be noted as a normal feature of facial skin in some families.
Telangiectasia due to disease
Telangiectasia may follow a cutaneous injury. For example:
Telangiectasia following injury
Some tumours are characterised by telangiectasia, such as:
Telangiectasia in skin tumours
Certain medications may give rise to telangiectasia.
Telangiectasia related to topical steroid use
Telangiectases are generally harmless. Treatment may be sought because of bleeding or unsightly appearance. Facial red vein treatment methods include:
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