What causes numb face?

Numb face can be the result of nerve or skin damage to the face and surrounding tissues. Disorders affecting the nerves, such as tumors and stroke, may also cause numb face.

Common causes of numb face

Numb face may be caused by several common conditions including:

  • Exposure to cold
  • Exposure to toxic or poisonous compounds
  • Face trauma or injury
  • Pressure on nerve or nerve entrapment

Disease causes of numb face

Certain diseases and conditions may at times cause numb face including:

  • Exposure to toxins
  • Migraine
  • Multiple sclerosis (disease that affects the brain and spinal cord causing weakness, coordination, balance difficulties, and other problems)
  • Shingles (reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus, which remains in the body in an inactive state following chickenpox)
  • Vitamin deficiency

Serious or life-threatening causes of numb face

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

  • Brain or nerve tumors
  • Severe head injury
  • Stroke
  • Transient ischemic attack (temporary stroke-like symptoms that may be a warning sign of an impending stroke)

Questions for diagnosing the cause of numb face

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

  • How long have you felt numbness in your face?
  • Does your face always feel numb?
  • Where do you feel your face numbness?
  • Do you have any other symptoms?
  • What medications are you taking?

What are the potential complications of numb face?

Because numb face 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 (if your numb face is due to a stroke)
  • Paralysis
  • Permanent nerve damage

References:

NINDS paresthesia information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/paresthesia/paresthesia.htm. Accessed April 30, 2011.

Numbness and tingling. Medline Plus. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003206.htm, Accessed April 30, 2011.

INTRODUCTION

What is numb face?

Numb face is caused by decreased sensation in the face from either nerve dysfunction or damage. It can result from an injury to the face or exposure to cold temperatures. Alternatively, numb face may be caused by neuropathy, a disorder in which the nerves that relay signals between the body and the brain do not function properly. Multiple sclerosis is an example of a chronic condition that... Read more about numb faceintroduction

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with numb face?

Numb face may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the face also involve other body systems.... Read more about numb facesymptoms

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 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