Venous lakes appear as bluish-purple spots usually on the lip though they may also appear on the ear or face. They are caused from the dilation of small veins called venules and are thought to occur on skin that has been exposed to excess sun. Venous lakes typically appear in people over the age of 50 but they can occur in younger adults. Venous lakes are considered benign lesions but it is important to have them evaluated because they can resemble melanoma or basal cell carcinoma.
Venous lakes can be present on the skin for many years before they reach a size that may be bothersome because they are very slow growing. They usually are painless but have been known to bleed and become tender if traumatized by an irritation. Some people have more than one venous lake in a particular area and the surrounding skin often shows UV damage from the sun.
A doctor should evaluate any skin growth that appears dark and discolored even if the person suspects it is just a venous lake. Venous lakes are usually smooth and well demarcated unlike the irregular shape of a potentially malignant skin growth.
The doctor first will check whether the venous lake blanches when pressure is applied, which temporarily pushes the blood out of the growth, which is another clue that it may be a venous lake. This is done using a glass slide pressed against the venous lake and is called diascopy. The doctor may decide to send off a biopsy if still unsure.
A venous lake can be removed for cosmetic reasons or if they persistently bleed either using surgery or through laser treatments. Laser treatments may need to be repeated to totally remove the venous lake. There are different types of lasers used depending on the location and amount of skin thickening surrounding the venous lake. Laser treatments do carry the risk of bleeding, swelling and there may be some scarring. Additionally, they can be painful to receive so the doctor will inject anesthetic into the surrounding skin to minimize discomfort.
There are no creams or changes in diet that will help resolve or treat a venous lake.