Read below about face pain, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your face pain from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

A.I. Health Assistant

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having face pain

Face Pain Quiz

Face Pain Symptoms

Sensation to the face is controlled by specific nerves and arteries. Damage to these nerves and arteries can result in debilitating facial pain that is often very challenging to resolve.

The quality of facial pain symptoms can be everything from:

  • Sharp to Dull
  • Burning to Aching
  • Constant to Intermittent
  • Localized to Generalized

Since the quality and severity of facial pain can take many forms, it may also be difficult to characterize symptoms that may be associated with the pain as well.

Often people with facial pain may also experience:

Regardless of the combination of symptoms, facial pain is often debilitating and resistant to normal home remedies. Therefore, make an appointment with your doctor in order to properly treat and diagnose your face pain symptoms.

Face Pain Causes Overview

The causes of facial pain are varied because the arteries and nerves of the face are susceptible to damage by various sources.

Neurologic causes

  • Neuropathic : The word neuropathic refers to disruption in nerve functioning. Facial pain can be caused by malfunction of the trigeminal nerve – the nerve that provides sensation to the face and scalp. In most cases, the exact mechanism causing the trigeminal nerve to malfunction is never diagnosed. Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic facial pain syndrome that is quite uncomfortable even after such activities as teeth brushing or applying facial makeup.
  • Central : Central neurologic causes such as headaches and migraines can also be associated with facial pain symptoms.

Infectious causes

  • Bacterial: Many bacterial viruses can affect parts of the head such as the teeth and sinuses and indirectly cause facial pain symptoms. For example, a bacterial infection of a tooth causing an abscess can result in swelling and discomfort in the face. Bacterial infection of the eye can cause pain that radiates to surrounding areas of the face. Furthermore, specific bacteria such as the bacteria causing Lyme disease can affect nerves of the face resulting in pain.
  • Viral : Certain viruses have a propensity for infecting and attacking the nerves of the face. Herpes zoster, the virus that causes shingles, can lay dormant in the trigeminal nerve and resurface to cause a painful, blistering rash of the face. Furthermore, the pain can recur even after the rash is treated and goes away. In addition, the same parts of the face that bacteria can infect, especially the sinuses and eyes, viruses can also infect.

Structural causes

  • Musculoskeletal: Pain and dysfunction in the muscles that control chewing and movement of the jaw can result in debilitating facial pain that is easily triggered by common actions such as eating breakfast or yawning.
  • Obstruction: Presence of a salivary stone that obstructs the salivary gland may cause facial swelling that puts pressure on the trigeminal nerve causing pain.

Vascular causes

  • Giant cell arteritis: Some autoimmune diseases can cause inflammation of the blood vessels in your head leading to facial pain. One such condition is called Giant Cell/Temporal Arteritis.

Injury-related causes

Finally, a direct blow to the face is an obvious trigger for facial pain. Large bruises and deformities are a clear cause of any facial pain you be experiencing, but also take note of any smaller cuts or lesions on the face that could be responsible for your face pain symptoms.

A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Face Pain

The list below shows results from the use of our A.I. Health Assistant by Buoy users who experienced face pain. This list does not constitute medical advice.

  1. 1.Temporomandibular Joint (Tmj) Dysfunction Disorder

    The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located in front of the ear, and it connects the jaw to the side of the head. Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is a painful condition which can be caused by excess tension in jaw mucles, faulty alignment between upper and lower teeth, arthritis in the joint, or injury of the jaw or face.

    Outcome is highly case-dependent.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    dizziness, pain, restricted movement, and clicking sounds from jaw, history of headaches, jaw pain, pain in the back of the neck
    Symptoms that always occur with temporomandibular joint (tmj) dysfunction disorder:
    pain, restricted movement, and clicking sounds from jaw
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Chronic Sinusitis

    Chronic sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses (hollow cavities behind the nose & cheeks) that lasts more than 12 weeks and can continue for months or years.

    Longer than 3 months.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, trouble sleeping, congestion, runny nose
    Symptoms that always occur with chronic sinusitis:
    chronic sinusitis symptoms
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.Acute Viral Sinusitis

    Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinus spaces behind the nose and cheeks. These spaces produce mucus, which drains into the nose. If the nose is swollen or if the mucus does not drain, this can block the sinuses and cause pain or infection.

    Symptoms should subside within 7-10 days

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    headache, cough, sinusitis symptoms, sore throat, congestion
    Symptoms that always occur with acute viral sinusitis:
    sinusitis symptoms
    Symptoms that never occur with acute viral sinusitis:
    being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  4. 4.Cellulitis

    Facial cellulitis is a skin infection that typically comes from other parts of the face like the mouth or the sinuses and needs antibiotic treatment. Symptoms can be pain, redness, warmth and swelling of the affected area.

    Dependent on severity of infection

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    fever, chills, facial redness, swollen face, face pain
    Symptoms that always occur with cellulitis:
    facial redness, area of skin redness
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  5. 5.Sinus Headache

    Sinus headaches are very common. When compared to a normal headache, this pain is generally around the eyes, sinuses, and upper cheeks.

    A few days

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    headache, headache that worsens when head moves, facial fullness or pressure, mucous dripping in the back of the throat, sinus pain
    Symptoms that always occur with sinus headache:
    headache
    Symptoms that never occur with sinus headache:
    fever, being severely ill, sore throat, muscle aches, cough, drooping eyelid, wateriness in both eyes, headache resulting from a head injury, severe headache, unexplained limb pain
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment

    Face Pain Checker

    Take a quiz to find out why you’re having face pain.

    Face Pain Quiz
  6. 6.Common Cold

    The common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract.

    The common cold resolves within 7 to 10 days.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, cough, sore throat, congestion
    Symptoms that never occur with common cold:
    being severely ill, severe muscle aches, rash, severe headache, sinus pain
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  7. 7.Acute Bacterial Sinusitis

    Acute bacterial sinusitis occurs when the sinuses become infected and, in turn, inflamed, which causes pain and other symptoms. The sinuses are air-filled cavities in the face that are generally clean and empty but when they're sick collect excess mucus and can become infected. When your symptoms are persisting for 10 days or more or are getting worse over time, it's more likely that you'll have a bacterial infection as compared to a viral infection.

    7-15 days

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, cough, sinusitis symptoms, muscle aches
    Symptoms that always occur with acute bacterial sinusitis:
    sinusitis symptoms
    Symptoms that never occur with acute bacterial sinusitis:
    clear runny nose, being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  8. 8.Condition Causing Facial Weakness

    Facial weakness may be the sign of a stroke or bell's palsy & requires immediate medical attention.

    MISSING

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    face weakness
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room
  9. 9.Viral Throat Infection

    Viral pharyngitis is an inflammation of the pharynx, the part of the throat between the nasal cavity and mouth, which causes throat pain.

    Symptoms generally resolve within 3-4 days

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    sore throat, cough, congestion, fever, hoarse voice
    Symptoms that always occur with viral throat infection:
    sore throat
    Symptoms that never occur with viral throat infection:
    being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  10. 10.Skin Abscess

    A skin abscess is an infection of the deeper skin that's typically due to bacteria seen on the skin. Recently, infections are more frequently caused by Staph. Aureus (puts the "staph" in "staph infections"), which is dangerous and requires treatment.

    Good prognosis with treatment

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    rash with bumps or blisters, red rash, red skin bump larger than 1/2 cm in diameter, pus-filled rash, rash
    Symptoms that always occur with skin abscess:
    rash with bumps or blisters
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Face Pain Treatments and Relief

Treatment for your facial pain will most likely not resolve via home remedies – make an appointment with your doctor!

Depending on the diagnosis, your doctor may recommend the following treatment options:

  • Anticonvulsants: Do not be alarmed, your facial pain is most likely not the result of seizures. Many anticonvulsant medications are also used to combat nerve pain and your doctor may prescribe medications such as gabapentin (Neurontin) or carbamazepine (Tegretol).
  • Antibiotics: If your facial pain is due to bacterial causes, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics. Viral causes will not resolve with antibiotics, and your doctor will most likely suggest supportive remedies if that is the case.
  • Surgery: There are surgical procedures that can destroy nerve fibers in the face to reduce pain symptoms, especially for the neurological causes of facial pain. Talk with your doctor about this option and assess if it is the best option for you.

Seek medical attention immediately if you experience sudden onset scalp pain accompanied by fever or visual symptoms. These could be signs of Temporal Arteritis which must be treated quickly to prevent visual loss.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Face Pain

  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.Do you feel a painful, tight knot or band in your muscle anywhere on the body?
  • Q.Do you have a runny nose?
  • Q.Do you have a sore throat?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our face pain symptom checker to find out more.

Face Pain Quiz

Face Pain Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced face pain have also experienced:

    • 12% Headache
    • 10% Eye Pain
    • 7% Scalp Pain
  • People who have experienced face pain had symptoms persist for:

    • 38% Less Than a Week
    • 37% Less Than a Day
    • 12% Over a Month
  • People who have experienced face pain were most often matched with:

    • 42% Temporomandibular Joint (Tmj) Dysfunction Disorder
    • 42% Chronic Sinusitis
    • 14% Acute Viral Sinusitis
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

A.I. Health Assistant

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having face pain

Face Pain Quiz