What is facial tingling?
Facial tingling might feel like a prickly or moving sensation under your skin. It can affect your whole face, or just one side. Some people describe the feeling as uncomfortable or annoying, while others find it painful.
Tingling sensations are a sign of a condition called paresthesia, which also includes symptoms such as numbness, prickling, itching, burning, or crawling sensations. You might experience tingling along with some of these issues. On the other hand, facial tingling might be your only complaint.
Read on to learn more about what could be causing your facial tingling.
There are several possible causes for tingling in the face, including:
Nerves run all through your body, and some are located in your face. Any time a nerve is damaged, pain, numbness, or tingling can occur.
Neuropathy is a condition that causes injury to the nerves in your body and sometimes affects facial nerves. Common causes of neuropathy are:
- autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, and others
- infections, including shingles, hepatitis C, Epstein-Barr virus, Lyme disease, HIV, Hansen’s disease (leprosy), and others
- a trauma, such as an accident, fall, or injury
- vitamin deficiencies, such as not enough vitamin B, vitamin E, and niacin
- inherited conditions, including Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
- medications, such as chemotherapy
- bone marrow disorders, including lymphoma
- exposure to poisons, such as heavy metals or chemicals
- other diseases, including liver disease, Bell’s palsy, kidney disease, and hypothyroidism
Nerve damage can be treated with medicines, surgery, physical therapy, nerve stimulation, and other methods, depending on the cause.
Trigeminal neuralgia is another condition that causes abnormal function of the trigeminal nerve in your face. It can trigger tingling and often very intense pain.
Typically, people with this condition report episodes of severe, shooting pain that feels like an electric shock.
Certain medications and surgical procedures may help relieve the discomfort.
Migraines can cause tingling or numbness in your face and body. These sensations may occur before, during, or after a migraine episode. They often crop up on the same side of your body that the head pain affects.
Some types of migraine can also cause temporary weakness on one side of the body, which can involve the face.
Different medications are available to help or prevent migraine symptoms. Your doctor might also tell you to record your symptoms in a journal, so you can pinpoint specific migraine triggers.
Tingling or numbness in the face and body is one of the most common symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS). In fact, it’s often the first sign of the disease.
MS happens when a person’s immune system mistakenly attacks the protective coverings of nerve cells.
People with MS who have extreme facial tingling or numbness should be cautious when chewing because they can accidentally bite the inside of their mouths.
Other symptoms of MS include:
- difficulty walking
- loss of coordination
- weakness or numbness
- vision problems
- slurred speech
- issues with bladder or bowel function
There’s no cure for MS, but certain medications can slow the progression of the disease and relieve symptoms.
Some people report a tingling, burning, or numbing sensation in their face and other parts of their body before, during, or after an anxiety attack.
Other physical symptoms, such as sweating, trembling, rapid breathing, and increased heart rate, are common reactions.
Certain forms of therapy along with medications, including antidepressants, can help treat anxiety.
Sometimes facial tingling is a sign that you’re allergic to something. Tingling or itching around the mouth is a common response to food allergies.
Other signs of an allergic reaction include:
- trouble swallowing
- hives or itchy skin
- swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
- shortness of breath
- dizziness or fainting
- diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting
Minor allergies can be helped with over-the-counter antihistamines. A severe allergic reaction is usually treated with an EpiPen, an injectable device that contains the medicine epinephrine.
Some people report experiencing tingling on one side of their face during or after a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), which is also known as a “ministroke.”
You should seek immediate emergency medical care if your tingling is accompanied by:
- a severe and unusual headache
- slurred speech or difficulty talking
- facial numbness, drooping, or paralysis
- sudden vision problems
- sudden loss of coordination
- memory loss
Both stroke and TIA are considered medical emergencies. Be sure to pursue treatment as soon as you notice symptoms.
Facial tingling is a common sign of fibromyalgia, a condition that’s characterized by widespread pain and fatigue.
Other symptoms of fibromyalgia may include cognitive difficulties, headaches, and mood changes.
Medications can help relieve pain and improve sleep. Other treatments such as physical therapy, counseling, and certain alternative treatments may help people with fibromyalgia.
Your facial tingling could be due to several other possible causes.
For instance, some people believe that stress, exposure to cold air, previous facial surgeries, radiation therapy, and fatigue can all trigger the tingling sensation.
Doctors aren’t always able to identify an exact cause for facial tingling, however.
It’s a good idea to see your doctor if your facial tingling becomes bothersome or interferes with your daily life.
Your healthcare provider will probably want to perform tests to find out what’s causing the sensation.
Remember to get help right away if you think you’re having a stroke or severe allergic reaction. These can be life-threatening conditions that require emergency care.
A variety of medical issues can cause tingling in the face. Sometimes these problems can be easily treated with simple remedies. Other times they require prompt medical attention.
Facial tingling might be a constant symptom, or you might only experience the sensation occasionally. Either way, your doctor can help you figure out what’s causing the tingling and how to effectively treat it.