Forehead Pain: Top 10 Causes (& What to Do)

Forehead pain commonly occurs with the flu, cold or sinusitis. It can occur due to sinus inflammation, which increases pressure around the eyes and nose. Forehead can also be tensional in nature, which means it can be triggered by stress, fatigue, bad posture or anxiety. 

Forehead pain can be felt when your eyes are tired, or as a result of high blood pressure. These are conditions that should be reported to your doctor for management. 

If you frequently experience forehead pain, you should see your family doctor or neurologist for assessment. From there, the doctor can identify a cause and start treatment as appropriate.

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What causes forehead pain?

The most common causes of forehead pain are: 

1. Stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety can increase the production of cortisol and adrenaline, which are hormones that can stimulate contractions in the neck and shoulder muscles. This can cause a type of headache known as tension headache, which you can read more about below.

This type of headache can be confused with a migraine because it causes a feeling of intense pressure around the forehead, but is not accompanied by other common migraine symptoms, like nausea, throbbing or sensitivity to light.

What to do: This headache usually improves when stress is reduced, which can be achieved with rest and relaxation. A great option may be to drink soothing teas, such as chamomile, passionflower or valerian tea. Learn more about the herbs for anxiety that you can use to prepare relaxing teas.

However, if pain does not improve with natural measures, your doctor may recommend medications like acetaminophen or aspirin.

2. Tired eyes

Spending excessive time on a computer, phone or reading a book can cause eye pain and forehead pain. These activities can also cause neck pain, tearing of the eyes, blurry vision, itchiness and redness. 

Conditions like glaucoma or ocular cellulitis can also cause forehead pain. 

What to do: To prevent tiring of the eyes, you should reduce your computer and cell-phone use, and adjust screen settings to yellow light (as this light is more similar to sunlight and does not irritate the eyes as much). People who work on a computer should ensure good posture with adequate distance from the screen. It may be helpful to look away from the screen at a distant point every hour and to blink the eyelids frequently to ensure the eyes remain moist. 

Artificial tear drops may also help, as well as eye exercises and massages. 

3. Migraines

Migraines cause symptoms like intense headaches that are constant and pulsating. They can be felt on the left or right side of the head, or radiate to the forehead and neck. Pain ususally lasts anywhere between 3 and 72 hours, and can occur with symptoms like comiting, dizziness, nausea, burry vision, difficulty concentrating and sensitivity to light or sounds. 

What to do: A constant migraine that is not easily relieved should be assessed by a doctor urgently to start treatment as appropriate. Most cases can be treated with medications like zolmitriptan and ergotamine prescriptions. 

Migraines accompanied by nausea and intense vomiting can be treated with medication like metoclopramide or droperidol. 

Also recommended: 11 Teas for Headaches to Naturally Manage Pain

4. Cold and flu

It is possible to experience forehead pain with a cold or flu due to nasal and airway inflammation. It can be felt with other symptoms, like general malaise, runny nose, coughing and muscle weakness.

Also recommended: Cold vs Flu: Main Differences, How to Treat & Home Remedies

What to do: In these cases, it is important to rest and use analgesics like acetaminophen to quickly relieve pain and discomfort. 

5. Sinusitis

Sinusitis is an inflammation of the nasal sinuses that can cause symptoms like pain and facial heaviness, especially around the forehead and cheekbones. Other common symptoms include sore throat, difficulty breathing, foul breath, loss of smell and runny nose. 

What to do: Treatment consists of steroid nasal sprays, which help to relieve a stuffy nose, as well as analgesics and decongestants, which help to relieve pressure and forehead pain. Sinusitis caused by a bacterial infection may be treated with antibiotics. Learn more about the medications for sinusitis that your doctor may prescribe. 

Treatment for sinusitis can also be complemented with natural treatments and other home remedies, like daily nasal irrigations.

6. Cluster headaches

Although this cause is not as common, it is possible for cluster headaches to cause very sudden and intense forehead pain. This pain can radiate around the head, like a tight ribbon tied around the head. Cluster headaches can last for several minutes, hours or days, and many people may even experience more than one episode in a day.

The specific causes of cluster headaches are not fully known, but there appears to be genetic in nature.

What to do: Cluster headaches can normally only be relieved with medication, like sumatriptan, which is why it is important to see a doctor if you suspect you may be experiencing them.

7. Tension headaches

Tension headaches are generally caused by neck and back muscle stiffness, which can be caused by bad posture, stress, anxiety or fatigue.

Generally, symptoms associated with tension headaches include pressure felt on both sides of the head and forehead, as well as sensitivity to touch of the shoulders, neck and scalp. 

What to do: To relieve this type of pain, you should try to relax with massages and warm baths, Psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and other relaxation techniques can help to prevent tension headaches.

If your headaches do not resolve with these conservative measures, medications like anti-inflammatories or analgesics. 

8. Temporal arteritis

This type of arteritis, also known as giant cell arteritis, causes inflammation of the external arteries that carry blood to the brain. These arteries pass through temple region, which is why they can cause forehead pain if they become swollen. 

Pain from temporal arteritis is intense and is recurrent. It is often accompanied by other symptoms like pain that worsens when chewing or speaking, vision problems and excessive fatigue. This condition is most common in people over 50 years of age and the black population.

What to do: as it is a recurring problem, temporal arteritis should be evaluated by a neurologist or an angiologist, so that a treatment plan can be initiated to prevent its frequent occurrence. Typically, treatment includes the use of corticosteroids to alleviate symptoms.

9. High blood pressure

High blood pressure can lead to forehead pain, as well as symptoms like double or blurry vision, sleepiness, pain at the beck of the neck and increased heart rate. Check-out the other symptoms of high blood pressure that you should not ignore.

What to do: It is important to adhere to treatment as prescribed by a cardiologist and to use medications as directed. A healthy and balanced diet with low salt intake is also important, as is regular physical activity. Read more about the high blood pressure diet that can help you to relieve your forehead pain.

Also recommended: 13 Home Remedies for High Blood Pressure

10. Following an epidural

A headache after receiving epidural anesthesia may appear a few hours or days after administration of the anesthetic. It may then  disappear spontaneously within 2 weeks. The headache usually affects the forehead and the back of the head, but can also radiate to the neck and shoulders.

What to do: Forehead headaches after epidural anesthesia usually go away after a few weeks. However, you are advised to drink plenty of fluids to help relieve your headache more quickly.