Spider veins, bruises and scars

by | Pharmacy Care

General Information

Spider veins

Spider veins (also called starbursts or telangiectasia) are very fine, purple, red or blue veins seen on the legs or face. They usually occur in a group and look like a spider’s web or the branches of a tree. Spider veins are more common in women than in men.

Factors that can increase your chance of developing spider veins include:

  • spending a lot of time on your feet
  • being overweight
  • getting older
  • having a family history of spider veins
  • pregnancy
  • taking the oral contraceptive pill or hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
  • sun exposure to the face

Long-term use of potent steroid creams may also cause spider veins or similar effects.


A bruise is caused by an injury to soft tissue, resulting in bleeding under your skin from damaged blood vessels. It can cause the area to swell or feel tender. The bruise is initially red or purple and then changes to yellow or green as it fades.

Factors that can increase your chance of bruising include:

  • getting older
  • being thin and having less fat underneath your skin
  • certain medications such as corticosteroids (e.g. prednisone), aspirin, warfarin and anti-inflammatory medicines (e.g. ibuprofen, diclofenac)
  • having certain blood conditions when you bleed more easily

A haematoma is a bruise which becomes hard, due to the blood clotting in a localised area (such as a muscle), and you may need to see a doctor to get this drained off.


Scars can be caused by surgery, burns, cuts and grazes, acne, skin infection, chickenpox and scratches. How major the scar becomes depends on the age and health of the person, their genes, location of skin damage, cause of skin damage, treatment of the wound and movement during healing. Scars will either settle within 12 months or remain permanent.

The different types of scars include keloid, hypertophic and contracture scars.

Keloid scars

  • keloid scars are raised, itchy, often red and can be bigger than the original injury to the skin
  • they appear because excess collagen forms as part of the healing process
  • they can sometimes affect mobility or cause discomfort
  • they rarely subside with time
  • spontaneous keloids can occur, particularly in Asian and African people

Hypertrophic scars

  • hypertrophic scars are similar to keloid scars but do not cover an area bigger than the original injury and may subside with time

Contracture scars

  • contracture scars may result from a burn. The skin becomes tight and can affect mobility

See Your Pharmacist or Medical Professional

Spider veins

  • if the spider veins are causing pain or discomfort
  • if you have been using steroid creams, as these may be the cause


  • if the area is particularly painful or difficult to move; there may be damage, such as a fracture or sprain underneath
  • if the bruise covers a large area
  • if the area becomes very swollen or the bruise becomes hard
  • if the bruise does not go away within 2 weeks
  • if bruising occurs easily or for no obvious reason
  • if you are taking medicines, particularly warfarin, aspirin or anti-inflammatory medicines, and notice you are bruising more easily or more extensively than you were before


  • if the scar is painful, oozing pus or blood, or causing discomfort
  • if you are unhappy with the way the scar looks
  • if the scar covers a large area

Treatment Tips

Spider veins

  • wear support stockings (particularly for varicose veins of the legs; ask your pharmacist for advice)
  • maintain ideal body weight
  • have regular exercise
  • avoid prolonged standing
  • avoidance of sun exposure and use of a sunscreen may help prevent spider veins on your face


  • cool the injured area with an icepack to help limit bleeding into the skin and reduce bruising
  • elevate the injured area above the level of your heart to help reduce swelling and bleeding into the skin
  • do not massage the bruise


  • use an appropriate moist wound dressing or wound closure strips on injuries to help reduce scarring; ask your pharmacist for advice
  • do not pick at wounds
  • minimise movement of the affected area while healing
  • camouflage make-up can help improve the appearance of scars

Treatment Options

Spider veins

  • spider veins can be treated with laser treatment, intense pulsed light therapy and sclerotherapy, although often other spider veins can develop in the same area


e.g. heparinoid (Hirudoid cream)

  • Hirudoid cream works by helping to break up blood clots and improving the blood supply to the area
  • it can be used to help with bruises and swelling
  • it may cause redness in the treated area

e.g. arnica (Arnica Ointment)

  • arnica products are marketed to help bruising and swelling and may help relieve pain


  • treatments such as laser therapy or corticosteroid injections may be an option for some types of scars

Silicone gel sheets

e.g. Cica-Care

  • silicone gel sheets may be used for improving the appearance of red, dark or raised scars; however, more research is required to determine their effectiveness
  • Cica-Care can be used on recent or old scars (up to 20 years old) and is safe for both adults and children
  • the gel is cut to the correct size and is placed on the skin for 4 hours
  • the wear time is gradually increased as the skin becomes used to the gel; best results are usually seen after 2 to 4 months
  • it must not be used on open or infected wounds or over scabs or stitches

Essential oils and vitamins

e.g. Bio-Oil, Mederma gel

  • these products are marketed as helping to reduce the appearance of scars and stretch marks

More Information

Availability of medicines

  • GENERAL SALE available through pharmacies and possibly other retail outlets.
  • PHARMACY ONLY available for sale through pharmacies only.
  • PHARMACIST ONLY may only be sold by a pharmacist.

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