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Telangiectasia

Telangiectasias are small, widened blood vessels on the skin. They are usually meaningless, but may be associated with several diseases.

Considerations

Telangiectasias may develop anywhere within the body but can be easily seen in the skin, mucous membranes, and whites of the eyes. Usually, they do not cause symptoms. However, some telangiectasias bleed and cause significant problems. Telangiectasias may also occur in the brain and cause major problems from bleeding.

Causes

Causes may include:

  • Alcohol use
  • Aging
  • Genetics
  • Pregnancy
  • Sun exposure

Diseases associated with this condition include:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you notice enlarged vessels in the skin, mucous membranes, or eyes.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

The doctor will perform a physical exam and ask questions about the symptoms, including:

  • Where are the blood vessels located?
  • Do they bleed easily and without reason?
  • What other symptoms are present?

Tests may be needed to diagnose or rule out a medical condition. Such tests may include:

  • Blood tests
  • CT scans
  • Liver function studies
  • MRI scans
  • X-rays

Sclerotherapy is the treatment for telangectasias on the legs. Laser treatment is typically used to treat telangectasias of the face.

Alternative Names

Vascular ectasias

Update Date: 5/13/2011

Updated by: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.  Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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