Facial numbness on the right side can be caused by various medical conditions, including Bell’s palsy, multiple sclerosis (MS), or stroke. Loss of sensation in the face isn’t always an indicator of a serious problem, but you should still seek medical attention.
Is it a stroke?
A stroke is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical care. Knowing the signs of a stroke can help save your life or the life of a loved one.
Common signs of a stroke include:
- one-sided (unilateral) facial numbness or drooping
- 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 signs of a stroke appear abruptly. You should call your local emergency services right away if you or someone you know is showing signs of a stroke. Acting quickly can help to minimize the brain damage caused by a stroke.
The facial nerve allows you to feel sensations in your face and move your face muscles and your tongue. Facial nerve damage can lead to symptoms including facial numbness, loss of sensation, and paralysis. 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. A few are described here.
This condition 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 include:
- unilateral facial paralysis, drooping, or weakness
- pressure in the jaw or ear
- being overly sensitive to smell, taste, or sound
- 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. However, it shares symptoms with medical emergencies, such as strokes. Don’t try to self-diagnose Bell’s palsy. Instead, see a doctor immediately.
Infections can damage the nerve that controls sensation in the face. A number of common infections can lead to unilateral facial numbness.
Some are the result of bacterial infections, such as:
- tooth infections
- Lyme disease
- respiratory infections
- salivary gland infections
Others are caused by viral infections, including:
- flu (influenza)
- HIV or AIDS
- mononucleosis (Epstein-Barr virus)
Numbness caused by an infection can affect the face unilaterally or on both sides. 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.
A migraine is a type of headache that causes intense pain. Migraines can cause neurological symptoms, such as facial numbness on the right side. Other common signs of a migraine 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
- tingling arms or legs
- trouble speaking
A migraine headache can cause right- or left-sided facial numbness. Sometimes the entire face is affected. In other cases, only some facial areas may be affected.
If you experience migraine headaches, call your doctor if there is a change in your normal symptoms. You should also see a doctor if you’re experiencing migraine symptoms for the first time.
An autoimmune disease, MS affects the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. Symptoms usually appear gradually. Sometimes symptoms go away and then return. In some cases, numbness or loss of sensation on the right side of the face is an early sign of MS.
Other early signs of MS include:
- vision difficulties
- numbness and tingling sensations
- pain or muscle spasms
- weakness or exhaustion
- poor coordination or difficulty balancing
- bladder dysfunction
- sexual difficulties
- confusion, memory problems, or difficulty speaking
Numbness caused by MS can appear on the right or left side, or the entire face.
The earlier MS is treated, the better. You should speak to a doctor if you’re experiencing unexplained symptoms similar to those of MS.
Strokes occur when the blood supply to the brain is reduced or cut off altogether. Left untreated, strokes can be fatal.
Symptoms that affect the face are common with stroke, and they include facial numbness, drooping, and weakness. Someone who is having a stroke might have difficulty smiling. Other common stroke signs are described at the top of this article.
Strokes can cause right- or the left-sided facial numbness. Sometimes they affect the right and left side of the face simultaneously.
Fast action is necessary to minimize long-term damage. You should call your local emergency services right away if you or someone you know is experiencing stroke symptoms.
Many other conditions can cause facial numbness on the right side. Some of these conditions include:
- allergic reactions
- autoimmune disorders, such as lupus
- brain tumors
- dental surgery
- exposure to extreme cold
- heat, fire, and chemical burns
- neuropathy caused by diabetes
- severe cases of anemia
- transient ischemic attacks
- traumatic brain injuries
If you’re experiencing numbness on the right side of your face, you should see a doctor. Numbness in the face isn’t always an indicator of a serious problem, but it can be. Seeking medical attention is the only way to know for sure.
When facial numbness appears suddenly alongside other signs of a stroke, you shouldn’t wait to see if symptoms go away. Seek emergency medical treatment as soon as possible.
If your face feels numb on the right side, keep a record of other symptoms to share with a doctor. During your appointment, you should also talk to your doctor about prescriptions you’re currently taking, as well as existing diagnoses you have.
The doctor will try to identify what is causing the numbness. They might:
- look into 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 what is causing numbness on the right side of your face, they can come up with options for treatment. Treating the condition that is causing your facial numbness can help relieve this symptom.
Facial numbness sometimes disappears without medical intervention.
There are no specific medical treatments for unilateral facial numbness. Pain medication can sometimes help with related symptoms. Talk to a health professional to understand how you can ease numbness in the right side of your face.
Numbness on one or both sides of your face can indicate a medical emergency. Learning to recognize the symptoms of a stroke is a good idea.
Other causes of facial numbness aren’t emergencies, but they still require medical attention. The first thing to do to address numbness on the right side of your face is to book an appointment with a doctor to discuss your symptoms.