Spider angioma (nevus araneus) is an abnormal grouping of blood vessels beneath the surface of the skin. It often appears on the skin as a central red dot with several thin radiating red streaks, resembling a spider. These marks are most commonly seen on the face, neck, trunk and arms. Often times, spider angiomas will go away in children, but tend to persist in adults. Spider angiomas are common and pose no specific health threats. However, if more than five are present on the body, it may be a possible sign of liver disease. This is usually seen on the upper chest and arms and may be due to excess estrogen or liver failure. In some cases, people choose to have them treated for cosmetic reasons.

Common symptoms of spider angioma includes:

  • A central red dot on the skin with several radiating streaks, similar in appearance to a spider
  • The area of skin affected by the angioma will blanche when pressed, then return to a red color when the pressure is removed from the skin
  • Spider angiomas are painless

The cause of spider angiomas is unclear. Pregnancy and liver disease are associated with this condition. Multiple spider angiomas on the body may signal cirrhosis of the liver.

Proper skin care is important in maintaining healthy skin.Use products specially designed for sensitive skin. Use gentle cleansers that are fragrance and allergen free to avoid irritating the skin. Astringents that contain alcohol may also dry out the skin. Look for moisturizers that contain UV filters, which can offer additional safeguards against UV radiation. Make sure to apply these frequently and generously to adequately hydrate and protect the skin.

Since over exposure to the sun is harmful to existing skin conditions, it’s important to take extra precautions before spending time outdoors.

Limit sun exposure: Reducing your time in the sun is perhaps the easiest way to avoid damage to your skin caused by UV rays. When outdoors, set a time limit and seek shade when necessary. Also keep in mind that UV radiation is the strongest between the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Use Sunscreen: Sunscreens are an essential part of protection against the sun. Look for sunscreens labeled “Broad Spectrum”. They are often the most effective and offer protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Apply generously and frequently.

Cover and protect: Wrap-around sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats and clothing that covers your arms and legs, can offer extra protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays.

A cosmetic option to consider is to simply use a foundation to even out your complexion and conceal the redness.

Electrodessication and laser therapy are used to treat spider angiomas. There is a slight risk of scarring with these procedures. More than one treatment would be required for high flow lesions.