Varicose veins may often go unnoticed for some time. However, visually, a varicose vein will appear bluish purple. This is because the blood pooling in the vein needs to be oxygenated, which is why it is on its way back to the lungs and heart.

Once a varicose vein becomes symptomatic, patients commonly report a general heaviness and ache in the legs. This can be followed by swollen ankles and lower legs, restlessness, cramps and itching or an irritated rash on the legs or near the ankles.

Other common symptoms include tenderness to touch around the area of the varicose vein and numbness. Unsightly veins develop over the ankle and foot and the skin becomes discolored, later becoming thick and leathery. Patches of skin may break down resulting in ulceration.

Spider veins are like varicose veins, but appear much smaller and closer to the surface. They derive their name from looking like spider webs and a reddish color. Spider veins may represent the “tip of the iceberg,” with more serious venous disease underneath.