Some causes of lost sensation or tingling on the face can be serious, while others may resolve on their own. Causes can include stroke, multiple sclerosis, and some infections.

Right-sided facial numbness can happen due to various medical conditions, including:

  • Bell’s palsy
  • multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • stroke

Loss of sensation in the face isn’t always an indicator of a serious problem, but you should still seek medical attention to make sure, as some causes, like stroke, are life threatening.

Is it a stroke? Act “FAST”

A stroke is life threatening and requires immediate medical care.

Knowing the symptoms of a stroke can help save your life or the life of a loved one. The American Stroke Association recommends learning the acronym “FAST” to recognize the warning signs of stroke so you can get help immediately:

F: Face drooping

A: Arm weakness or numbness

S: Speech difficulty

T: Time to call 911

Fast action is necessary to minimize long-term damage. You should call your local emergency services right away if you or someone else is experiencing stroke symptoms.

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The facial nerve allows you to feel sensations in your face and move your facial muscles and tongue. Facial nerve damage can lead to symptoms including:

  • facial numbness
  • loss of sensation
  • facial paralysis
  • slurred speech

These symptoms usually affect the face unilaterally, meaning on either the right or the left side.

Many conditions can lead to facial nerve damage and facial numbness on the right side. These can include:

Stroke

Strokes occur when the blood supply to the brain is reduced or cut off. Untreated, strokes can be fatal.

Symptoms that affect the face are common with stroke, including drooping, weakness, and numbness affecting one or both sides of the face. A stroke can also cause difficulty smiling.

Symptoms of a stroke can include:

  • one-sided (unilateral) facial numbness, drooping, or paralysis
  • weakness in an arm or leg
  • sudden confusion
  • difficulty understanding speech, or slurred or jumbled speech
  • poor coordination, difficulty balancing, or vertigo
  • lightheadedness or extreme fatigue
  • nausea and sometimes vomiting
  • blurred vision or vision loss
  • a severe headache

The symptoms of a stroke appear abruptly. You should call 911 or your local emergency services right away if you or someone you know is showing signs of a stroke.

Learn about stroke first aid.

Bell’s palsy

Bell’s palsy causes temporary paralysis or weakness in the face, usually on one side. You might also feel numbness or tingling on the affected side of your face.

Bell’s palsy symptoms appear when the facial nerve is compressed or swollen. Common indicators of this condition can include:

  • unilateral facial paralysis, drooping, or weakness
  • drooling
  • pressure in the jaw or ear
  • being overly sensitive to smell, taste, or sound
  • headaches
  • excessive tears or saliva

Symptoms of Bell’s palsy only affect the face and can appear on the right or left side. It can also affect both sides simultaneously, though it’s uncommon.

Bell’s palsy isn’t life threatening, but it shares symptoms with medical emergencies, such as strokes. If you think you have symptoms of Bell’s palsy, it is best to get medical attention to make sure it isn’t a stroke.

Learn about the differences between Bell’s palsy and stroke.

Infections

Infections can damage the nerve that controls sensation in the face. Several common infections can lead to unilateral facial numbness.

Bacterial infections that can cause one-sided facial numbness can include:

Viral infections that can cause one-sided facial numbness can include:

Numbness from an infection can affect one or both sides of the face. Infections usually cause other symptoms alongside loss of sensation.

Most of the time, unilateral right-sided facial numbness caused by an infection can be alleviated by treating the infection.

Migraine

Migraine is a neurological condition that typically causes severe head pain and other symptoms. Other symptoms of a migraine episode can include:

  • pounding or throbbing head pain
  • feeling nauseous
  • feeling unusually sensitive to light, sounds, or other sensations
  • vision problems
  • seeing visual stimuli such as bright flashes, dark spots, or shapes
  • dizziness
  • tingling arms or legs
  • trouble speaking

A migraine episode can cause right- or left-sided facial numbness. Sometimes, it affects the entire face. In other cases, it affects only some facial areas.

If you have migraine, consider speaking with your doctor if there’s a change in your usual symptoms. You should also see a doctor if you have migraine symptoms for the first time.

Learn about the differences between migraine and stroke.

Multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. Symptoms usually appear gradually and may go away before returning. In some cases, numbness or loss of sensation on the right side of the face can be an early symptom of MS.

Numbness caused by MS can appear on the right side, left side, or the entire face.

Other early symptoms of MS can include:

  • vision difficulties
  • numbness and tingling sensations
  • pain or muscle spasms
  • weakness or exhaustion
  • dizziness
  • poor coordination or difficulty balancing
  • bladder dysfunction
  • sexual difficulties
  • confusion, memory problems, or difficulty speaking

Early treatment can help slow MS progression. It’s best to speak to a doctor if you’re experiencing unexplained symptoms similar to those of MS.

Other causes

Other health conditions can cause facial numbness on one side. Some of these conditions may include:

If you’re experiencing numbness on the right side of your face, it’s best to get medical attention.

Numbness on the face doesn’t always indicate a serious problem, but because it can be a symptom of stroke, doctors typically recommend getting immediate medical attention to get a diagnosis.

When facial numbness appears suddenly with other symptoms of a stroke, do not wait to see if the symptoms go away. Seek emergency medical treatment as soon as possible.

During your appointment, a medical professional may ask about any medications or supplements you’re currently taking, existing diagnoses you have, and symptoms you’re experiencing.

A doctor typically conducts an exam and recommends tests to find a diagnosis. They may:

  • ask about your family or medical history
  • do a physical exam
  • ask you to complete certain movements to check nerve function
  • order a blood test
  • order an imaging scan, such as an MRI or CT scan
  • order an electromyography test

Once your doctor has identified the cause of numbness on the right side of your face, they can suggest treatment options. Treating the condition can help relieve this symptom and address the underlying cause.

Learn more about tests doctors may perform to diagnose or rule out stroke.

Numbness on one or both sides of your face can indicate a medical emergency, such as a stroke. If you may be having a stroke, it’s important to get emergency medical attention, as this can reduce complications and support your recovery.

Other causes of facial numbness may not be emergencies but may still require medical attention.