Facial numbness

Conditions

Facial numbness is an absence or loss of sensation in any part of the body.

It can be a symptom of many health problems, such as migraine and allergies.

Numbness usually occurs as a result of nerve damage or disruption of nerve function.

Numbness is a loss of sensation in any part of your body.  Facial numbness is not a disease but a symptom of something else. Most causes of facial numbness are related to nerve compression or nerve damage. 

Nerve disorders can sometimes be due to poor health or an allergic reaction, but they can also simply be a response to cold.

Migraine: a possible cause of facial numbness

Migraine is a possible cause of a numb face.

Migraine is a condition that causes severe headaches and other symptoms. Some people experience facial numbness during a headache.

Migraine has four phases:

  • Prodrome: early signs of migraine include unexplained mood changes, uncontrollable yawning, fluid retention and increased urination.
  • Aura: People experiencing aura may see flashing or bright lights or zigzagging lines. They may also experience muscle weakness. The aura stage may occur just before or during the headache phase, but not in everyone with a migraine.
  • Headache: The pain tends to be on one side of the head and usually worsens when the person moves. People may feel a painful throbbing or pulsing sensation. Other symptoms at this stage include numbness, nausea and strong sensitivity to light, sound and smell.
  • Postdrome: The person may feel exhausted, weak and with moments of confusion.

There is no cure for migraine. However, individuals can take painkillers or prescription medications to decrease the frequency of episodes and reduce symptoms.

During a migraine episode, a person can also:

  • rest with their eyes closed in a dark room.
  • place a cool cloth or ice pack on the forehead
  • drink plenty of water.

The numbness from the migraine usually goes away after the episode is over.

Allergies

An allergic reaction occurs when the body’s immune system reacts to an allergen, which is a foreign substance that is usually not a health hazard. An allergen can be something the person has eaten, inhaled, injected or touched.

Some allergies can cause numbness in the face. Other typical symptoms of an allergic reaction include:

  • coughing
  • sneezing
  • itchy eyes
  • a runny nose
  • a sore throat
  • a rash
  • hives

A severe allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis, is very dangerous. A person having a severe allergic reaction will need emergency medical attention. They may have:

  • Low blood pressure.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Swelling of the throat.

Bell’s palsy

Bell’s palsy is a form of temporary facial paralysis. An affected facial nerve can cause this condition.

Symptoms tend to appear suddenly and worsen within 2 days. They may include:

  • tics
  • weakness in the facial muscles
  • an inability to move one side of the face
  • a drooping eyelid
  • confusion
  • pain or discomfort around the jaw and behind the ear
  • ringing in one or both ears
  • headaches
  • increased sensitivity to sound
  • speech problems
  • dizziness
  • difficulty eating or drinking

Doctors may recommend steroids, antiviral medications or pain relievers, such as aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

They may also suggest other non-drug therapies, including physical therapy, facial massage and acupuncture.

Stroke

There are different types of stroke, but this condition always requires immediate medical attention.

A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain bursts. An ischemic stroke usually occurs when a blood clot blocks one of these vessels or atherosclerosis narrows it.

When the brain does not get the blood it needs, the neurons die.

A stroke will occur suddenly and, in some cases, can cause numbness in the face. The person may also experience the following symptoms

  • confusion
  • difficulty seeing
  • difficulty moving
  • a sudden severe headache

Multiple sclerosis: a disease that can also cause facial numbness

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain. MS damages the central nervous system and causes a variety of symptoms, including numbness.

Some of the common symptoms of MS are:

  • numbness or tingling in the face, body, arms or legs
  • fatigue
  • weakness
  • dizziness and lightheadedness
  • sexual dysfunction
  • pain and itching
  • difficulty walking
  • spasticity (involuntary muscle stiffness or spasms in the limbs)
  • vision problems
  • loss of bladder or bowel control
  • problems thinking or processing information