Face tingling quiz
Take a quiz to find out what's causing your face tingling.
The sensation of face tingling is most commonly caused by anxiety or a panic attack. Tingling and numbness in the face can also be caused by nerve sensitivity or damage, specifically known as Bell's Palsy. Read below for more information on related symptoms, other causes, and treatment options.
9 most common causes
Facial tingling and numbness symptoms
Facial tingling can be due to a variety of neurological or medical conditions. The most common cause of facial tingling is anxiety or a panic attack. However, irritation or damage to the nerves in the face cause facial tingling along with numbness or weakness. If the facial tingling is due to mild anxiety, it may be manageable at home with lifestyle modifications. However, most causes of facial tingling require evaluation and treatment by a doctor.
Common accompanying symptoms of face tingling
It's likely to also experience the following.
- Facial numbness
- Facial droop
- Facial pain
- Other neurologic symptoms
- Skin changes
More severe symptoms
If you experience the following, seek treatment immediately, as these may be symptoms of a stroke:
- Sudden-onset numbness or tingling of the face
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty finding your words
- Drooping on one side of the face
What can cause tingling and numbness in the face?
Anxiety is the most common cause of facial tingling, and it may present with panic attacks. If your face tingling also presents with facial droop or other neurologic symptoms, this indicates a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA).
Causes of face tingling that are likely temporary or reversible include the following.
- Anxiety: Numbness, tingling, or pain the face can be a manifestation of anxiety. Sometimes, people experiencing anxiety or a panic attack experience a tightening of the muscles of the neck and shoulders. This tightening can restrict blood flow to the face and cause the tingling sensation.
- Anesthesia: Local anesthesia from dental or facial procedures can cause numbness or tingling in the face. The sensation will wear off within several hours; however, numbness or tingling in the face for up to 12 hours following local anesthesia is common.
Neurological causes of face tingling include the following.
- Stroke: A stroke, or transient ischemic attack (TIA), is when blood flow to part of the brain is blocked, causing numbness, weakness, or other neurological problems in the body. A stroke refers to permanent damage due to lack of blood flow. A TIA refers to symptoms of blocked blood flow that then resolve; however, this can warn a stroke is going to occur.
- Multiple sclerosis (MS): MS is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the sheath around nerves in the body. Without this protective sheath, the nerves become damaged. Numbness or tingling in the face can be a symptom of nerve damage from MS.
- Nerve problem: The nerve that controls sensation to the face can become irritated or inflamed, causing numbness, tingling, or pain in the face. The cause of this condition is often unknown. Typically, symptoms are intense and short-lived and occur only on one side of the face.
Causes of face tingling related to another medical illness may include the following.
- Infection: The chickenpox virus can cause a condition known as shingles. Shingles involves a painful rash, usually in a particular distribution along a nerve's path, and only on one side of the body. If the rash is on the face, in the mouth, or in the ear, it can present with pain, numbness, or tingling in the face. Sometimes, the pain and tingling precede the rash by days.
- Systemic illness: There is a group of systemic disorders, known as scleroderma, that affect blood vessels. Damaged blood vessels may restrict blood flow to the face, causing numbness and tingling. Other symptoms include skin changes like itching, swelling, or tightening of the skin, particularly of the fingers and toes.
- Tumor: There are some tumors, particularly tumors of the ear canal, that can compress or irritate the nerves of the face and cause numbness, tingling, or facial droop.
This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.
Stroke or tia (transient ischemic attack)
Transient ischemic attack, or TIA, is sometimes called a "mini stroke" or a "warning stroke." Any stroke means that blood flow somewhere in the brain has been blocked by a clot.
Risk factors include smoking, obesity, and cardiovascular disease, though anyone can experience a TIA.
Symptoms are "transient," meaning they come and go within minutes because the clot dissolves or moves on its own. Stroke symptoms include weakness, numbness, and paralysis on one side of the face and/or body; slurred speech; abnormal vision; and sudden, severe headache.
A TIA does not cause permanent damage because it is over quickly. However, the patient must get treatment because a TIA is a warning that a more damaging stroke is likely to occur. Take the patient to the emergency room or call 9-1-1.
Diagnosis is made through patient history; physical examination; CT scan or MRI; and electrocardiogram.
Treatment includes anticoagulant medication to prevent further clots. Surgery to clear some of the arteries may also be recommended.
Top Symptoms: dizziness, leg numbness, arm numbness, new headache, stiff neck
Symptoms that never occur with stroke or tia (transient ischemic attack): bilateral weakness
Urgency: Emergency medical service
Shingles (herpes zoster)
Shingles (herpes zoster) is a disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus - the same virus that causes chickenpox. Early signs of shingles include burning or shooting pain and tingling or itching, usually on one side of the body or face. Rashes or blisters appear anywhere from one to 14 days later. If shingles appears on the face, it may affect vision or hearing.
You should go to a retail clinic or your primary care physician to be treated for shingles. Most common treatments involve pain killers and prescription antiviral medicines.
Panic or anxiety attack(s)
Panic disorder means a generalized set of symptoms involving sudden, unexplained feelings of anxiety and overwhelming fear. The physical symptoms are very real and consist of sweating, pounding heart, and shortness of breath.
The cause is not known. It may involve changes in brain chemistry that cause a person to perceive danger where there actually is none. Severe and ongoing stress, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be factors.
Panic disorder is most common among women. It can affect anyone, however, especially with a family history.
This condition does not improve on its own. If left untreated, the patient may become isolated and even suicidal.
A doctor will do a complete workup, including blood tests, to rule out any physical causes for the symptoms. A psychological workup will also be done.
The first line of treatment is talking with a professional who can help with coping and stress management. Medication, including some antidepressants and calming drugs, may be used temporarily but can cause dependence and unpleasant side effects if used for too long.
Symptoms that always occur with panic or anxiety attack(s): anxiety or anxiety/panic attacks
Urgency: Primary care doctor
Nose or sinus tumor
A tumor in the nose or one of the sinuses occurs due to abnormal growth of the cells lining the inside of the nose and sinuses. These tumors are rare and can cause symptoms like congestion or blockage, nose bleeds and sometimes facial pain or swelling.
You should visit your primary care physician to discuss your symptoms and to get further tests done. Referral to an ENT surgeon is likely needed.
Rarity: Ultra rare
Top Symptoms: new headache, congestion, vision changes, ear fullness/pressure, ear pain
Symptoms that never occur with nose or sinus tumor: improving congestion
Urgency: Primary care doctor
Myofascial pain syndrome
Myofascial pain syndrome is also called chronic myofascial pain (CMP.) Pressure on certain points of the muscles causes referred pain, meaning the pain is felt elsewhere in the body.
The cause is believed to be muscle injury through overuse, either from sports or from a job requiring repetitive motion. Tension, stress, and poor posture can also cause habitual tightening of the muscles, a form of overuse.
This overuse causes scar tissue, or adhesions, to form in the muscles. These points are known as trigger points, since they trigger pain at any stimulus.
Symptoms include deep, aching muscular pain that does not go away with rest or massage, but may actually worsen. There is often difficulty sleeping due to pain.
Myofascial pain syndrome should be seen by a medical provider, since it can develop into a similar but more severe condition called fibromyalgia.
Diagnosis is made through physical examination and applying mild pressure to locate the trigger points.
Treatment involves physical therapy, pain medications, and trigger point injections. In some cases, acupuncture and antidepressants are helpful.
Multiple sclerosis (MS)
Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a disease of the central nervous system. The body's immune system attacks nerve fibers and their myelin covering. This causes irreversible scarring called "sclerosis," which interferes with the transmission of signals between the brain and the body.
The cause is unknown. It may be connected to a genetic predisposition. The disease usually appears between ages 20 to 50 and is far more common in women than in men. Other risk factors include family history; viral infections such as Epstein-Barr; having other autoimmune diseases; and smoking.
Symptoms include numbness or weakness in arms, legs, or body; partial or total loss of vision in one or both eyes; tingling or shock-like sensation, especially in the neck; tremor; and loss of coordination.
Diagnosis is made through patient history, neurological examination, blood tests, MRI, and sometimes a spinal tap.
There is no cure for MS, but treatment with corticosteroids and plasma exchange (plasmapheresis) can slow the course of the disease and manage symptoms for better quality of life.
Top Symptoms: severe fatigue, constipation, numbness, decreased sex drive, signs of optic neuritis
Urgency: Primary care doctor
Low calcium level
Hypocalcemia is a condition where there is not enough calcium in the blood. Calcium is a mineral contained in the blood and helps the heart and other muscles function properly. It is also needed to maintain healthy teeth and bones. Low calcium levels can cause bones to become brittle and more easily fractured. Parathyroid issues and vitamin D deficiency are common causes of this condition.
You should consider visiting a medical professional to discuss your symptoms. Low calcium levels can be evaluated with a review of your symptoms and a blood test. Once diagnosed, treatment depends on the cause of your low calcium levels.
The four parathyroids are tiny glands that lie behind the thyroid gland in the neck and control calcium levels in the blood and bones.
In most cases, enlargement of one or more of the parathyroids causes overproduction of parathyroid hormone (PTH.) This is followed by hypercalcemia, or high blood calcium levels.
Sometimes a benign or malignant tumor on one of the parathyroids is the cause. Other causes are chronic kidney failure or a deficiency of calcium and/or vitamin D.
Most at risk are women past menopause with a pre-existing calcium deficiency; radiation treatment to the neck; or use of the drug lithium.
Early symptoms are those of hypercalcemia: brittle bones, excessive urination, tiring easily, depression, and generally feeling ill with no clear cause.
If not treated, hyparathyroidism can lead to osteoporosis, kidney stones, and cardiovascular disease.
Diagnosis is made through blood test. Bone mineral tests, urine tests, and imaging of the kidneys may be ordered.
Treatment includes monitoring; medications called calcimimetics or bisphosphonates; and surgery to remove the affected parathyroid glands.
Bell's palsy can present as acute or chronic facial paralysis. This paralysis is usually sudden in onset and worsens over the course of 48 hours. Resolution of symptoms usually occurs within two weeks to six months but permanent paralysis can rarely occur. Symptoms of this condition are a result of the paralysis of facial muscles. This paralysis usually occurs only on one side of the face. The cause of Bell’s palsy is inflammation or damage to the facial nerve, also known as cranial nerve VII. This nerve controls the muscles of the face. Treatment is aimed at reducing inflammation or targeting the underlying cause of facial nerve paralysis.
Top Symptoms: arm weakness, facial numbness, arm weakness, hearing loss, pain on one side of the face
Symptoms that always occur with bell's palsy: face weakness, weakness in one side of the face
Urgency: Primary care doctor
How to treat tingling in the face
Some causes of facial tingling symptoms are manageable at home. However, others require care from a physician.
When it is an emergency
Seek emergency treatment if you suddenly experience the following.
- Numbness or tingling in the face or body: Especially if it comes on suddenly or is only on one side
- Facial droop: Particularly if only on one side
- Confusion or disorientation
If the tingling in your face is due to mild anxiety, try the following.
- Take deep breaths
- Relax in a hot bath: Or some other light activity you enjoy
- Practice mindfulness: Various apps are available to help with this.
- Get a massage
When to see a doctor
If your face tingling persists or worsens, see a physician. He or she may recommend the following.
- Imaging: If you have new-onset tingling in the face, a doctor may order imaging of the face and head to determine the cause. A doctor will order a CT or MRI if they suspect stroke is the cause of the tingling in your face.
- Blood tests: If a doctor suspects a systemic medical illness is the cause of the tingling in your face, they may recommend blood tests to determine.
- Mental health referral: If a doctor suspects the tingling in your face is due to severe anxiety or panic attacks, they may refer you to a mental health professional. There are a variety of treatments for anxiety, including therapy, medications, and mindfulness-based practices.
- Medication: If a doctor suspects the tingling in your face is due to an infection, antivirals can treat the cause. If a doctor suspects a systemic medical illness is the cause of your facial tingling, other types of medication may be necessary.
Questions your doctor may ask about face tingling
- Have you been experiencing any muscle weakness that is symmetrical (equal on both sides of your body)?
- Have you lost some or all of your sense of taste?
- Have you ever been diagnosed with a psychiatric issue, such as depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, or anxiety disorder?
- Have you ever been diagnosed with a specific type of headache?
Self-diagnose with our free Buoy Assistant if you answer yes on any of these questions.
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