When to Worry About Varicose Veins

February 9, 2023 The Vein Institute

One of the most common concerns we hear is when to worry about varicose veins. Some people will say that appearance is their main issue. While the bluish, bulging nature of the veins can be bothersome, varicose veins are more than just a cosmetic concern. Beyond appearance, varicose veins can indicate deeper vein issues which can cause serious health risks. So, if you want to learn more about the signs to look out for, keep reading.

When to worry about varicose veins: the signs and symptoms

As a general rule of thumb with any health injuries, if the symptoms keep getting worse, it’s crucial to have it treated as soon as possible to prevent more dangerous developments. You should also seek specialist advice if you find the condition interferes with day-to-day life. If you have any of the following symptoms, seek specialist advice ASAP.

Aching or throbbing pain

Increased pressure in the damaged veins can cause them to swell and nerves to stretch. When this happens, you may feel pain in your varicose veins. Often, this pain comes in different forms like a deep ache, heaviness, cramping, or throbbing in the limbs. 

If you work long hours of sitting and standing, you may be more prone to developing these symptoms. Luckily, there are some at-home ways to provide relief for varicose vein pain and discomfort. But if your symptoms are bothering you and you’re still wondering when to worry about varicose veins, it’s best to seek medical attention as soon as you can.


When valves are damaged, blood flows backwards and pools in the vein, leading to swelling. Swelling veins are often purple or blue and appear as lumpy or bulging. Typically, chronic swelling (aka oedema) occurs in more serious cases of varicose veins.

Itchy and inflamed skin

Varicose veins can sometimes cause a condition known as venous statis dermatitis or varicose eczema. This skin disorder occurs due to prolonged poor circulation, which deprives your skin of the oxygen and nutrients it needs to stay healthy.

Patients with this condition will experience dry, crusty, or flaky skin. If the condition persists long enough, it may also lead to venous ulcers (open sores), blood clots, and other complications.


More severe cases of varicose veins can be prone to discolouration and hyperpigmentation. You might notice red or brown patches on the skin or even what may be described as a ‘leathery texture’. 

In more advanced stages of chronic venous insufficiency, damaged varicose veins and venous walls can’t move blood towards the heart. Hence, this causes blood pooling as red blood cells leak out into surrounding skin tissue and ‘stain’ the skin. 

Hyperpigmentation due to this condition can be difficult to heal. But, this can still be slightly improved if the underlying vein disease is treated.

Lifestyle and related health issues

Aside from life-impacting and/or worsening symptoms, you should also seek treatment if you have certain health risks. Vein health in the legs can affect and be affected by our diet, muscle fitness and other conditions. These include diabetes, blood pressure, respiratory conditions and more.

If you’re overweight, a smoker or you have health issues that affect your blood flow like low blood pressure, diabetes, haemophilia or something else, then varicose veins can pose a more serious risk to you. Getting treatment early gives you the best chance to stay on top of these conditions.

Tips for relief

Several lifestyle adjustments can help with symptoms, especially if you’re seeking varicose vein pain relief:

    • Apply a cold compress. If you’re experiencing swelling, an ice pack can help facilitate immediate pain relief.
    • Move around regularly. Short walks and ankle rotations can help stimulate blood circulation. 
    • Wear compression stockings to sleep or during long-haul flights. 
    • Elevate your legs. Raising your legs above heart level improves blood flow, reduces inflammation, and decreases pressure on the veins.
    • Moisturise at least twice a day. Go for a hypoallergenic moisturiser with ingredients proven to be effective for eczema-prone skin.
    • Apply anti-itch cream such as calamine lotion. You can also opt for a topical steroid cream, like hydrocortisone, to reduce inflammation.
    • Take antihistamines (ideally at bedtime). Antihistamines are effective for relieving itching symptoms but do not necessarily treat flare-ups. So, especially if your symptoms are chronic, it’s important to consult a doctor.

Consult a specialist

If you’re still wondering when to worry about varicose veins and whether you should seek treatment, consult a specialist for advice. Some of these symptoms may seem bearable. But, leaving them untreated may pose a serious health risk. So, it’s essential to seek a doctor’s advice on the best steps to take. 

With The Vein Institute’s team of vein specialists, you can undergo treatment without the need for surgery or hospitalisation. Our treatments are highly safe and effective, using advanced technology from Europe and the USA.

If you’re ready to find the best treatment option for you, request an appointment online. Alternatively, you can also give us a call at 13 VEINS (that’s 13 83467).