What causes forehead pain?

Forehead pain results from multiple processes that affect the forehead. Headaches are a common cause of forehead pain. Such headaches may result from vascular abnormalities, muscle tension, or inflammation. Forehead pain is commonly caused by sinus infection, viral infections such as cold or flu, or even bacterial meningitis. Many other conditions may lead to forehead pain, including drug withdrawal, trauma or hormonal changes.

Headache causes of forehead pain

Headaches that may cause forehead pain include:

  • Migraines
  • Tension headache

Infectious causes of forehead pain

Forehead pain may be caused by infections such as:

  • Flu or cold
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Periorbital cellulitis (an infection of the eyelids or other soft tissue around the eyes)
  • Sinusitis

Other causes of forehead pain

Forehead pain may also have other causes including:

  • Anxiety or stress
  • Consumption of nitrates, aspartame, or monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Hormonal changes
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Loss of vision or changes in vision
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Withdrawal from caffeine, alcohol, or drugs such as sedatives

Serious or life-threatening causes of forehead pain

In some cases, forehead pain may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. These include:

  • Brain tumor
  • Concussion
  • Encephalitis (inflammation and swelling of the brain due to a viral infection or other causes)
  • Intracranial hemorrhage (bleeding inside the brain)
  • Meningitis (infection or inflammation of the sac around the brain and spinal cord)
  • Severe head trauma
  • Stroke
  • Subdural hematoma

Questions for diagnosing the cause of forehead pain

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your forehead pain including:

  • How long have you had forehead pain?
  • Where (specifically) do you feel the forehead pain?
  • Do you have tingling, weakness or numbness in your arms or legs?
  • Do you get a headache after reading or watching television?
  • Have you recently injured your head or neck?
  • Do you have any other symptoms?
  • What medications are you taking?

What are the potential complications of forehead pain?

Because forehead pain can be due to serious diseases, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:

  • Brain damage or inflammation
  • Disability
  • Paralysis
  • Spread of cancer
  • Spread of infection


  1. Headaches. FamilyDoctor.org. http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/tools/symptom/502.printerview.html.
  2. NINDS headache information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/headache/headache.htm
  3. Collins RD. Differential Diagnosis in Primary Care, 5th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams & Williams, 2012.
  4. Levine HL, Setzen M, Cady RK, et al. An otolaryngology, neurology, allergy, and primary care consensus on diagnosis and treatment of sinus headache. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2006; 134:516

What is forehead pain?

Forehead pain is a common symptom of infection, inflammation, vascular conditions, or physical trauma. Forehead pain can result from increased fluid (edema) in the soft tissues surrounding the forehead, sinuses or brain. It may occur in conditions affecting the forehead area itself or in association with more generalized conditions such as colds, flu, or low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).... Read more about forehead painintroduction


What other symptoms might occur with forehead pain?

Forehead pain may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the forehead may also involve other body systems.

Infectious symptoms that may occur with forehead pain

Forehead pain may accompany other symptoms related to infection such as:

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 23, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Brain and Nerves