Why do people bleed from their veins after they’ve been in a hot shower? Often, I get a call from the patient who was taking a hot shower, and the next thing they see is a pile of blood on the bathroom floor. In a panic they quickly call the paramedics. The paramedic arrives, wraps their leg, elevates it and brings them to the emergency department. They come to realize that they have a weakened vessel or varicose vein that is close to the surface and it has opened.
When we are in a hot shower and standing there is a lot of vein pressure bringing the circulation toward your feet. If you suffer from varicose veins it is difficult for that blood to return back to the heart. A hot shower will also cause the vessels to dilate and there is an increase in pressure bringing the flow upward. The skin softens over the weakened vessel and with the increase in circulatory pressure the potential to break the vessel open and bleed is increased.
The problem is not the bleeding vessel that had opened, but the underlying venous insufficiency and poor circulation returning blood to the heart. The bleeding vessel is a side effect of a longer standing problem. That problem is a poor return of blood back to the heart due to poorly functioning vein valves. The purpose of the vein valves is to ensure flow upward against gravity. When the valves do not work effectively the blood flows backward towards the ground. It is that back flow of blood that causes swelling in varicose veins.
Conservative care includes the use of compression stockings however in office treatments can be performed with either laser (endovenous laser) or the newest modality Venaseal which uses a medical adhesive to close the poorly functioning veins.
So the next time you have a bleeding vessel quickly wrap your leg tight and elevate your leg. Unless you have lost a lot of blood and you are on a blood thinner there is no need to go to the emergency room. Stay calm and call your primary doctor for a referral to a vein specialist.