Description and Possible Medical Problems

If you have surface varicose veins that become tender and painful, you probably have a condition known as superficial phlebitis, more commonly known as phlebitis. Phlebitis may occur because of a vein in the leg becoming inflamed due to injury or a clot, being inactive for more than several weeks, sitting in an airplane seat for hours, or taking estrogen.

In addition to the pain and tenderness, the entire length of the vein may become hard and the skin around the vein may be itchy.


Many people confuse superficial phlebitis with deep-vein thrombosis. The truth is that superficial phlebitis usually appears in a vein near the surface of the skin, while deep-vein thrombosis occurs in veins deep in the legs or abdomen and is a potentially life-threatening illness in which a blood clot forms within a blood vessel.

There are several things you can do to treat the pain of phlebitrs. Taking aspirin or Advil will help relieve the pain and reduce the swelling. You should also try to elevate your legs whenever you’re sitting or lying down. Some people find that applying moist heat to the legs or soaking in a warm tub helps.

A mild case of phlebitis will usually disappear within a week. However, you should see your doctor to rule out deep-vein thrombosis.


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