What are the causes and treatments for spider angiomas?

Symptom Database

Spider angiomas are a common medical condition that falls under the category of dermatology. They are a type of skin disorder characterized by the appearance of small, red, spider-like blood vessels on the surface of the skin. Spider angiomas can occur in both men and women of all ages, but they are more commonly seen in adults. In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, treatments, and prevention methods for spider angiomas.

Causes of Spider Angiomas

The exact cause of spider angiomas is not fully understood, but there are several factors that are believed to contribute to their development. Some of the common causes include:

  • Liver disease: Spider angiomas are often associated with liver diseases such as cirrhosis. When the liver is unable to function properly, it can lead to an increase in blood flow to the skin, causing the blood vessels to dilate and form spider-like patterns.
  • Alcohol consumption: Excessive alcohol consumption can also contribute to the development of spider angiomas. Alcohol can damage the liver, leading to the same mechanism described above.
  • Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes, particularly during pregnancy or hormonal therapy, can trigger the formation of spider angiomas. The fluctuation in hormone levels can affect blood vessel dilation and lead to their appearance.

Symptoms of Spider Angiomas

Spider angiomas are typically painless and do not cause any physical discomfort. However, they can be visually bothersome for some individuals. The main symptoms of spider angiomas include:

  • Red or reddish-blue spider-like blood vessels on the skin
  • Central red spot with smaller blood vessels radiating outwards
  • Blanching when pressure is applied to the lesion
  • Occurrence on the face, neck, arms, or upper body

Treatment Options for Spider Angiomas

Spider angiomas do not usually require treatment unless they cause cosmetic concerns or are associated with an underlying medical condition. However, if treatment is desired, there are several options available:

Laser therapy

Laser therapy is a common treatment for spider angiomas. It involves using a laser to target and destroy the blood vessels, causing them to fade over time. Multiple sessions may be required for optimal results.


Sclerotherapy is another treatment option where a solution is injected into the blood vessels, causing them to collapse and fade away. This procedure is often used for larger spider angiomas.


Electrocautery involves using heat to destroy the blood vessels. A small electric current is applied to the affected area, causing the vessels to coagulate and disappear.

Prevention of Spider Angiomas

While spider angiomas cannot always be prevented, there are certain measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of their development:

  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption, as it can contribute to liver damage and the formation of spider angiomas.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle and diet to support liver function.
  • Manage hormonal changes through proper medical guidance and avoid unnecessary hormonal therapies.
  • Protect the skin from excessive sun exposure, as it can worsen the appearance of spider angiomas.

In conclusion, spider angiomas are a common skin disorder characterized by the appearance of spider-like blood vessels on the skin. They are often associated with liver disease, alcohol consumption, and hormonal changes. While they are generally harmless, treatment options such as laser therapy, sclerotherapy, and electrocautery are available for those who wish to remove them for cosmetic reasons. By understanding the causes, symptoms, treatments, and prevention methods for spider angiomas, individuals can make informed decisions about their management and seek appropriate medical advice when necessary.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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