I have been absent from my blog for several days whilst I popped to Germany to judge the International Make-up Competition, which was an outstanding success yet again.

On my return one of my daughters was distressed and wanted to know my solution to the ‘red veins’ or ‘thread veins’ clearly visible on the top of her back. Firstly the correct term for these fine red lines is ‘dilated arterioles’ – which describes the permanently dilated condition of the smallest blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood. Sometimes they are also known as ‘dilated capillaries’, but this is an incorrrect description as capillaries are not visible to the human eye.

Whilst there are solutions which permanently cauterise these small blood vessels so that they no longer contain blood and cannot be seen through the skin, they are expensive and can be uncomfortable, some might even say painful procedures.

The appearance of the tiny, but visible red blood vessels through the skin is seen primarily on fine, thin, delicate skin. This skin type is more prone to developing this dilated condition because the skin is fine and therefore there is not adequate protection from temperature changes and other irritants. The fine, transparent appearance of the skin also makes it far easier to see the blood vessels through the skin.

This skin type is very usual for celtic races (Irish, Scottish, Scandinavians) and redheads where the skin is thinner, often dry and sensitive. Latin and African skin types are usually much thicker, coarser and often more greasy (which provides added protection) and are not prone to this condition.

So, how do you avoid getting them in the first place:

  • treat fine skin with the utmost care – no matter where it is on your body. Even if it is on your back, it needs to be treated in the same way as you would the skin on your face.
  • avoid hot showers and baths as this causes the blood vessels to expand rapidly, damaging the walls which eventually leads to permanent dilation.
  • avoid excesses of alcohol, spicy foods and very hot food and drinks, all of which produce either irritation or a rapid rise in temperature and the swelling of the tiny vessels.
  • wear protective moisturiser with a high SPF at ALL times, even the winter, as central heating and cold winds can be just as damaging as summer sunshine.
  • be very selective in product choice – avoid highly perfumed and high alcohol content products and NEVER use abrasive exfoliators or acid peels.

Prevention is always better and easier than the cure.