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Swollen artery (temporal?)
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Swollen artery (temporal?)

I am a 39-year-old male, 6'2" tall and weigh 190 lbs. I have no history of hypertension.  For the past four days I have had a swollen-looking artery on the side of my head, which is not normally so prominent.  I think it is the temporal artery. I first noticed it when I reached up to scratch and a scab fell off and I was bleeding, and I noticed that about a 1-inch length of the artery was swollen in the area of my temple where the scab had been. It took a long time to get it to stop bleeding after the scab came off. I think I may have either been bitten by a bug, or more likely, was burned in that spot by a piece of hot metal spark from welding.  The swollen part of my artery has extended from my eye area, a bit out towards the ear, and also well up my forehead and onto the front part of the top of my head.  It seems to be aggravated by sun and activity; it seems to wax and wane a bit according to my rest level/exposure to heat/sun. The artery is slightly tender to the touch, but I have no headache, no vision problems, no trouble with my jaw chewing or talking, no flu-like symptoms, no fever.  I feel fine other than the very slight tenderness to the touch.  Could this be some kind of irritation from a burn or bite, that is continuing to irritate the artery some four days later? I am concerned because I am currently working in the Bahamas and will not be returning home to the US for two more weeks. This link has a photo, with the spot of the burn/bite marked. http://img.villagephotos.com/p/2004-6/737525/swollenartery.jpg
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Could either be a vein or artery - difficult to tell on the picture.  As mentioned below, it can be inflammation of a vein - known as phlebitis and can be treated conservatively.  

If there is concern about temporal arteritis, blood tests looking for inflammation can help with the diagnosis.  Markers of inflammation, such as a sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein can be elevated in cases of temporal arteritis.  

You can discuss these options with your personal physician.

Followup with your personal physician is essential.

This answer is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice - the information presented is for patient education only. Please see your personal physician for further evaluation of your individual case.

Kevin, M.D.
Medical Weblog:
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3 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
Looks like a vein, not an artery (if it's not pulsating to light touch, it's not an artery). The temporal artery is not that far forward, nor does it run in that direction. Scalp veins have lots of blood in them, which can vary based on activity, temperature, etc. Unless the skin over it is red and/or the vein is hard and doesn't compress, it's not phlebitis (inflammation of a vein) and probably of no significance at all.
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Avatar_n_tn
The vein/artery does pulsate to light touch.  It is also prominent even during periods of rest and out of sun, just seems possibly worsened by activity/sun.  The skin over the area isn't red and the vein is not hard/does compress.
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Avatar_m_tn
The area you are showing is a common area that when cut will bleed profusely for a long period of time but will almost never leave a scar if left alone. In the WWF the wrestlers will cut themselves with razor blades in that same spot on purpose during a fight because of the effect it produces and for the fact that it has no lasting effect.

But you said it may be infected. You should try putting some neosporin on it and leaving it alone to see if the irritation goes away. Also some people will have prominent veins on their forehead which pulsate with anger and an increase in heart rate (Clint Eastwood for example).

The best thing to do would be to try not to worry about it and give it some time to heal.
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Avatar_n_tn
A related discussion, Swollen Temple Veins was started.
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A related discussion, pulsating enlarged temporal vein/artery was started.
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