Telangiectasias are small blood vessels that become dilated, or widened, near the surface of the skin. They look like fine pink or red spots or lines that whiten briefly under pressure. Clusters of these blood vessels are called “matted telangiectasias” and form pink or red spots on the skin.

Telangiectasias and scleroderma

Telangiectasias are one of the characteristic features of scleroderma, although they can develop in people without this disease. They are common to both limited scleroderma and diffuse scleroderma, although they may be more common in people with limited scleroderma.

Primarily, they develop on the fingers, hand, face, and mucous membranes such as the inner part of the mouth and lips. But they may also be found on the limbs and trunk, and can affect internal organs. Telangiectasias become more numerous over time in all types of scleroderma, and it is thought that the number of telangiectasias may correlate with the risk of developing pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Telangiectasias, however, do not represent a health risk in themselves.

How do telangiectasias develop?

Although exact triggers for the development of telangiectasias are not well understood, researchers think they can be the result of a failed attempt to increase blood flow to the affected skin or mucous membranes. This means that the presence of telangiectasias may be a marker of injury to blood vessels, and ongoing but failed attempts at blood vessel repair that occurs in multiple organs in scleroderma.

How are telangiectasias treated?

Ultraviolet radiation, heat, cold, strong wind, alcohol, smoking, hot drinks and food, spicy food, and products that irritate the skin can worsen telangiectasias. Reducing or avoiding exposure to these factors may help reduce the number of telangiectasias.

Telangiectasias can also be treated with electrosurgery, intense pulsed light, vascular laser treatment, and sclerotherapy.

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