Causes of Broken Capillaries

By |2023-04-12T09:00:57-05:00September 19th, 2022|

Broken capillaries can be caused by a number of different factors, including scrubbing the skin too hard or washing with hot water. Some people may have an inherited condition that leads them towards having more fragile blood vessels in their face than other individuals would experience over time – this is known as “broken” telangiectasia.
There are many factors that can cause a broken capillary. Hormones, genetics, lifestyle choices, medical conditions, trauma or damage, sun exposure, aging, obesity, drug and alcohol abuse. Read on to explore each of these causes and treatments.

Hormonal Changes

Changes in levels of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone can lead to broken capillaries. Elevated levels of these hormones can cause weakened blood vessels, making them expand more easily than they would otherwise be able too. This stretching eventually causes valves in these areas not function properly which can create an increased amount of pooling of blood within those veins.


If either or both parents have broken capillaries, their offspring are more likely to develop them too. These people are simply just more vulnerable to vein conditions which include broken capillaries as well as varicose veins and spider veins.

Some people may carry a gene that causes Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT). While scientists are still studying what causes HTT, the vast majority of cases are due to mutations in two genes, ENG and ACVRL1. Also referred to as Osler-Weber-Rendu syndrome, HTT causes abnormalities in the blood vessels which cause them to be fragile and burst. This bleeding or hemorrhaging can lead to other, sometimes serious, complications like internal bleeding. More commonly, people have less severe symptoms like broken capillaries, nose bleeds, or red spots that can be seen through the skin.

Lifestyle Choices

Lifestyle, such as standing or sitting for long periods of time can be a culprit of broken capillaries. The increased pressure can cause poor circulation in legs and limbs cause the valves that regulate blood flow get blocked by fat tissue. Because the person spends so much time standing, the veins have to work harder to get the blood back to the heart.

Medical Conditions That Cause Broken Blood Vessels

There are a few medical conditions that can cause broken capillaries. These include blood clots, inflammation in the veins, constipation, rosacea, systematic skin infections and more.

  • Arthritis
  • Vasculitis
  • Leukemia
  • Lupus
  • Liver Disease
  • Kidney Disease
  • Anemia
  • Hemophilia
  • Vitamin Deficiency
  • Meningitis
  • Strep Throat
  • Marfan Syndrome
  • Scarlet Fever
  • Embolism
  • Calciphylaxis
  • Telangiectasia
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Giving Birth or Pregnancy

Trauma or Damage

Tiny blood vessels in your skin can be permanently damaged by physical trauma, such as a bruise or injury to the body. This is more likely if you have sensitive skin. Some people might experience dilated capillaries after harsh microdermabrasion procedures. It’s also possible when popping pimples too hard due their proximity. In certain cases, broken capillaries in the face can be caused by repeated pressure such as the bridge of eye glasses on your nose.

Sun Damage

The sun is a powerful source of UV rays that can cause blood vessels in your skin to dilate permanently. The sun damage often extends to the region around those weakened spots close to the surface of the skin, which are then permanently dilated due their proximity with UV rays and other factors that cause elasticity loss in this area. This is especially common and visible on frequently exposed skin like noses or cheeks.

The aging process makes things worse by reducing elastin fibers’ strength leading directly towards more extreme widenings near areas prone for wrinkles.


One of the most common causes for broken blood vessels is aging, since our skin becomes thin and weak with time. Our cells reproduce as quickly or produce collagen as quickly as we age. With this thinning and weakening, our skin is also more fragile, making it more prone to trauma, another leading cause of broken capillaries.

Obesity Is A Leading Cause of Spider Veins

One of the main causes of broken capillaries in the legs is obesity. While obesity is bad for our overall health, it creates too much pressure on our body which interferes with circulation. The fragile lining of the veins starts to strain and eventually the valves give way causing blood pooling. This is known as vein disease and can appear on the exterior of skin as broken capillaries, spider veins or varicose veins.

Smoking, Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco usage can wreak havoc on the body. They damage the skin cells, the bones, the muscles, the soft tissue and more. Addiction and usage also causes broken capillary.

Smoking Tobacco

The harmful effects of smoking are not just limited to the lungs. The blood vessels also suffer and can become weak. This can cause broken capillaries more easily in smokers than non-smokers.


Alcohol consumption causes small blood vessels in the skin to widen which allows more flow close to its surface. This leads not only to a reddish color tone on the skin, most often around the nose, but also broken capillaries. Heavy alcoholics often develop enlarged pores, saggy skin and discoloration over time. Excessive alcohol use over time can lead to cardiovascular disease causing an irregular heartbeat, arrhythmia, can cause the heart’s valves not to open as they should or can even lead to heart failure.


For drug users who inject their substance, subcutaneous tissue, skin and blood vessel damage are common at the injection site. Many develop spider veins or varicose veins. Regularly injected veins may collapse and it can lead to heart valve and blood vessel infections. Other drugs like cocaine or hallucinogens can increase a user’s heart rate, increase blood pressure and in extreme case lead to cardiac arrest or aneurysm.

Treating Broken Capillaries

While broken capillaries can be unsightly and frustrating, especially on your face, there are many ways to treat them and help reduce their appearance. Treatment options vary depending on the underlying cause of the broken blood vessels. If you’re experiencing broken telangiectasia, for example, your doctor may recommend a laser treatment, sclerotherapy or surgery. If the cause is sun exposure or aging, treatments may be skin care products that increase collagen production or vitamin C may help improve the appearance of the vessels.

Other common treatments for capillary walls are intense pulsed light, laser treatments, laser therapy, anti inflammatory, home remedies, facial, retinoids, and other topical ointments. Some may be used to reduce redness with little to no side effects.

No matter what the cause, don’t hesitate to call today to schedule a consultation with our board certified vein specialists and find out how we can help get your legs or face looking its best.

For more Frequently Asked Questions Please Read On

Are broken capillaries serious?2022-09-19T16:35:19-05:00

No, broken capillaries are not usually serious. However, if you have a lot of them or they are causing you discomfort, you may want to consult with a doctor for treatment as they could be related to a more serious problem.

Why do my capillaries break easily?2022-09-19T16:34:58-05:00

There are a few reasons why your capillaries might break easily. One reason might be that your capillaries are weak and thin. This may cause by a variety of things, such as genetics, age, hot weather, skin health or lifestyle choices. Another reason why your capillaries might break easily is because they are constantly being exposed to stressors, like UV radiation from the sun or cigarette smoke. When these stressors are present, they can damage the capillaries and make them more likely to break.

Do broken capillaries heal?2022-09-21T11:44:16-05:00

There is no one definitive answer to this question. Some people say that broken capillaries on the face do eventually heal, while others claim that they do not. Factors that may influence whether or not a broken capillary heals include the severity of the break, how long it has been since the break occurred, and the individual’s overall health and age. If you are concerned about a broken capillary, it is best to speak with a doctor to get their professional opinion.

How do you get rid of broken capillaries?2022-09-19T16:34:08-05:00

Broken capillaries, medically called telangiectasia, are tiny red veins that can be seen just under the skin’s surface. They often show up on the face, especially around the nose, cheeks, face as well as on the chest and legs. Unfortunately, there is no single cure for broken capillaries. However, various treatment methods can help lessen their appearance. Some of these methods include topical creams and lotions, laser therapy, laser treatments, sclerotherapy and microdermabrasion.

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About the Author:

Avatar Of Paige Bourbeau, Arnp
Mrs. Paige Bourbeau, ARNP is a distinguished graduate of the University of South Florida's Masters of Science in Nursing program from 2012. As one of the top achievers in her class, she was inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau International Honors Society and recognized by the American College of Phlebology for her expertise in treating venous insufficiency.

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