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Varicose veins are most commonly found on the legs and feet. They are usually blue or purple and can be swollen. Varicose veins can cause a heavy, achy or uncomfortable feeling in the legs and make feet and ankles look puffy. Some people experience a burning or throbbing sensation, or a sensation of cramping in their legs. Veins can also itch and lead to skin dryness in the affected area.1
Some people find their symptoms are worse during hot weather, or if they have to stand for a long time. Exercise, or resting with the feet and legs elevated, can help to relieve symptoms.1
They are caused when little valves inside the veins stop working properly. In a healthy vein, blood is pumped to the heart and the valves stop blood flowing backwards into the vein. If the valves become damaged, blood collects in the vein, causing it to bulge.1
The valve damage that causes varicose veins can develop into a more serious condition called chronic venous insufficiency. Untreated, this can lead to ulcers (painful sores on the skin), which can limit mobility and have a negative impact on quality of life.2
Yes they can. There are several ways to treat varicose veins. As well as exercising and raising the feet, the first line of treatment is generally compression stockings. However, if they continue to be troublesome, varicose veins can be treated with:1, 3
Alternatively, the affected veins can be removed.1
NHS: Varicose veins. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Varicose-veins/ Accessed November 2020;
Venous Reflux Disease: What are Venous Leg Ulcers? Available at: https://www.medtronic.com/us-en/patients/conditions/venous-reflux-disease/venous-leg-ulcers.html Accessed November 2020;
Varicose veins: The condition, current treatments and procedure. Available at: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ipg670/chapter/2-The-condition-current-treatments-and-procedure Accessed November 2020.