Varicose veins are veins on the leg which are large, twisted, and ropelike, and can cause pain, swelling, or itching. They are an extreme form of telangiectasia, or spider veins.

Varicose veins are more common in women than in men, and are linked with heredity. Other related factors are pregnancy, obesity, menopause, ageing, and abdominal straining.

The irritation -- especially the itching -- of varicose veins can be controlled to an extent with either of the following:

  • anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or aspirin -- but there is a risk of intestinal bleeding
  • regular exercise

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