Forehead Pain: 6 Common Causes & What to Do

Updated in December 2022

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. 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 weakness, for example. 

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

2. 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. 

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. 

4. Tensional headache

Tensional 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 tensional 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 behavioural therapy and other relaxation techniques can help to prevent tensional headaches.

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

5. 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. 

6. High blood pressure

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. 

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.