Face tingling can occur with many situations, like facial paralysis, anxiety, migraine, TMJ dysfunction, infection or nerve inflammation. Some people report tingling after dental surgery, for example, which can be accompanied by other symptoms like headache or ear ringing.
In addition, face tingling can be a sign of a more serious health condition, like a stroke. This type of tingling is usually felt on one side of the body and occurs with symptoms like difficulty speaking or smiling, a crooked mouth and an asymmetric face.
It is important to see a neurologist, family doctor or dentist anytime you experience tingling or numbness in the face, especially if it presents with other symptoms. The doctor will order the appropriate testing to reach a diagnosis and start treatment. If you suspect a stroke you should proceed to the hospital immediately.
Face tingling can occur for the following reasons:
1. Dental problems
A common cause of face or head tingling is a dental issue, like cavities, pulpitis or a dental abscess. These can stimulate the nerve and cause numbness and pain.
What to do: You should book an appointment with your dentist for assessment and treatment. The doctor may prescribe antibiotics or anti-inflammatories, or recommend procedures like cavity fillings, tooth extraction or a root canal.
2. Bell’s palsy
Bell’s palsy, or facial paralysis, is a neurological disorder that occurs when the facial nerve is affected. It causes symptoms like a lack of movement on part of the face, tingling on the affected side, and difficulty closing your eye on the affected side.
What to do: In these cases, it is important to see a doctor to identify the underlying cause so that the most appropriate treatment can be started. Generally, the doctor will prescribe eyedrops to prevent dry eyes, as well as physiotherapy, massage and electrostimulation to strengthen the muscles and promote circulation.
3. TMJ dysfunction
TMJ dysfunction is a condition that affects the temperomandibular joint (or TMJ). This joint is responsible for the opening and closing movement of the mouth. Dysfunction can lead to discomfort and tingling in the face that may be accompanied by a persistent headache or ringing in the ears.
The most common causes of TMJ dysfunctions are grinding the teeth at night (bruxism), direct trauma to the area and even a severe nail biting habit.
What to do: Treatment should be oriented by a dentist, who will likely prescribe a mouth guard to use when sleeping, as well as physiotherapy, analgesics or anti-inflammatories, relaxation techniques, laser therapy or surgery.
4. Cranial nerve abnormalities
Abnormalities in cranial nerves, like the trigeminal nerve, facial nerve, glossopharyngeal nerve or occipital nerve can cause inflammation, leading to facial or cranial sensitivity. These can also cause symptoms like numbness or tingling that can be felt on the face and head.
What to do: Treatment depends on the nerve affected and the severity of symptoms. It should be guided by a neurologist, who may prescribe muscle relaxants, corticosteroids, anticonvulsants or antidepressants to relieve symptoms.
5. Dental surgery
Dental surgery, like tooth extraction, tooth implant, or corrective jaw surgery can lead to stimulation and inflammation of nerves in the area. This can lead to numbness, tingling or pain in the face.
What to do: Generally, this type of change is temporary and does not last for more than a few day. Face swelling is often noted. However, nerve damage can potentially affect sensibility for many months, which may require a more prolonged treatment approach or even more surgery. The dentist may prescribe analgesics, anti-inflammatories or opioids in the meantime.
Although the main symptom of a migraine is a headache, this condition may also cause sensitivity changes in some parts of the body, like the face, as well as numbness or tingling.
Migraines will often trigger an aura, which are symptoms that appear before the pain emerges, like numbness or seeing spots. Learn more about the common symptoms of a migraine and the aura symptoms that can occur.
What to do: Treatment for a migraine is usually guided by a neurologist, who may prescribe anti-inflammatory or triptan medication to relieve pain and prevent migraine crises. Learn more about how migraines are diagnosed and treated.
An anxiety attack or stress can cause change to sensitivity and tingling in many parts of the body. Many patients with a history of anxiety will report tingling in the face, tongue or head.
What to do: Tingling in these cases is usually mild and resolves within minutes, once the person is calmer. You can use natural methods to relieve stress and tingling, like herbs for anxiety to make tea with sedative properties.
8. Facial abnormalities
Facial nodules, polyps, infections (like sinusitis), inflammation, deformities or even tumors and impede normal circulation. Any interference with tissue integrity can cause facial tingling.
What to do: Treatment of facial abnormalities depends wholly on the underlying cause. The doctor overlooking treatment may be neurologist or ENT specialist. The doctor may prescribe analgesics, anti-inflammatories or surgery for removal of any growths.
9. Trigeminal neuralgia
Trigeminal neuralgia is a neurological disorder characterized by compression of the trigeminal nerve. This nerve is responsible for muscle control when chewing, and also transports face sensitivity-related information to the brain. Compression can cause face tingling, numbness or pain, which can radiate to the area around the nose and above the eyes.
This condition can occur due to a displaced blood vessel that rests on the nerve. It is also common with brain injuries and autoimmune diseases that affect the nerves, like multiple sclerosis.
What to do: You should consult a neurologist who may recommend the use of medications like analgesics, anticonvulsants, muscle relaxants or antidepressants to relieve pain and tingling. The doctor may also advise physiotherapy sessions, or in serious cases, surgery.
10. Vitamin deficiency
Vitamin deficiencies, like vitamin B3, B12 or E deficiencies, can cause nerve damage and lead to tingling, especially in the feet, legs or hands. Tingling can also be felt in the face. Learn more about the different causes of tingling throughout the body.
Furthermore, vitamin deficiencies can result in other symptoms like muscular pain, difficulty concentrating, diarrhea, vomiting or weight loss.
What to do: You should consult a family doctor to complete testing to determine which nutrient your body is lacking. Treatment usually involves the use of supplements as well as diet changes. Your diet should be varied and rich in fresh fruits, legumes and vegetables, as recommended by a registered dietitian.
A stroke, or cerebrovascular attack, is a condition that can cause symptoms like tingling on just one side of the face, difficulty speaking or smiling, a crooked mouth and an asymmetric face. Other common symptoms include vision changes, fainting, headache and even vomiting, depending on the area of the brain affected.
Strokes are life-threatening and generally occur due to a clot in a brain blood vessel that disrupts normal circulation, or a rupture of a blood vessel in the brain.
What to do: Proceed to the closest hospital so that the most appropriate treatment can be started to avoid further complications, like difficulty moving, confusion or memory loss. Treatment depends on the type of stroke the patient is presenting with.
12. Medication use
Some medications can cause face or body tingling as side-effects. This can occur with chemotherapy, HIV medication or metronidazole.
What to do: You should advise your prescriber of any side effects, so that the doctor can consider the possibility of altering doses or swapping to another medication.