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Telangiectasia

Pronounced: teh-LAN-jee-ek-TAY-zhuh

Definition

Telangiectasias are small, visible blood vessels just below the surface of the skin. They may appear as a single vessel or as many vessels in clusters. They may also be seen in the mouth or whites of the eyes. The may also be in other locations, such as the brain and the back of the eyes.

Causes

Telangiectasias are caused by small blood vessels that are stuck in a permanent, wide open position. In people without any underlying conditions, such as rosacea, there may be no clear cause.

Risk Factors

Telangiectasia are more common in women and in people aged 40 years and older. There may also be an increased chance of telangiectasias in those with a family history.

Symptoms

Telangiectasias are mainly a cosmetic problem. They are visible blood vessels that make red lines under the skin. They may appear in a lacy pattern. They can appear anywhere on the body, but are most common on the face, nose, and legs. In most cases they are painless. There are some who may experience a burning sensation or bleeding.

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

Depending on the cause of the lesion, your doctor may take a skin biopsy of the area. You may be referred to a skin specialist.

Punch Biopsy


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Treatment

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Often, treatment is not needed for the telangiectasias itself. Treatment depends on what is causing the telangiectasias.

Make-up can be used to cover the red patches. Depending on the type and location of telangiectasia, laser therapy or chemicals may be used to destroy the vessels.

Prevention

There are no current guidelines to prevent telangiectasias.

RESOURCES:

American Academy of Dermatology
http://www.aad.org

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
http://www.familydoctor.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Dermatology Association
http://www.dermatology.ca

The College of Family Physicians of Canada
http://www.cfpc.ca

References:

Generalised essential telangiectasia. DermNet NZ website. Available at: http://dermnetnz.org/vascular/essential-telangiectasia.html. Updated May 16, 2016. Accessed May 16, 2016.

Idiopathic telangiectasias. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/cardiovascular-disorders/peripheral-venous-disorders/idiopathic-telangiectasias. Updated May 2014. Accessed May 16, 2016.

Spider telangiectasias in children. Boston Children's Hospital website. Available at: http://www.childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions/spider-telangiectasias. Accessed May 16, 2016.



Last reviewed May 2016 by Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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