What causes facial numbness or weakness and what should I do?

Symptom Database

Facial numbness or weakness can be a concerning symptom that may indicate an underlying health issue. It can range from a mild tingling sensation to complete paralysis of the facial muscles. Understanding the causes of facial numbness or weakness is crucial in determining the appropriate course of action. In this article, we will explore the various factors that can lead to facial numbness or weakness and discuss the necessary steps to take when experiencing these symptoms.

Causes of Facial Numbness or Weakness

Facial Nerve Damage

One of the primary causes of facial numbness or weakness is damage to the facial nerve. The facial nerve is responsible for controlling the muscles of the face, allowing us to make facial expressions and experience sensations. Damage to this nerve can occur due to various reasons, including:

  • Facial trauma or injury
  • Infection, such as Bell’s palsy or herpes zoster
  • Tumor or growth pressing on the nerve
  • Autoimmune disorders, like multiple sclerosis

Facial Nerve Disorder

In addition to damage, certain disorders can affect the facial nerve, leading to numbness or weakness. Some common facial nerve disorders include:

  • Ramsay Hunt syndrome
  • Facial nerve palsy
  • Facial nerve neuropathy

Symptoms of Facial Numbness or Weakness

The symptoms of facial numbness or weakness can vary depending on the underlying cause. However, some common signs to watch out for include:

  • Tingling or numbness in the face
  • Difficulty making facial expressions
  • Weakness or paralysis of the facial muscles
  • Loss of taste sensation
  • Drooping of the eyelid or corner of the mouth

What Should I Do?

If you experience facial numbness or weakness, it is essential to seek medical attention promptly. While some cases may resolve on their own, others may require intervention. Here are some steps you can take:

Consult a Healthcare Professional

Make an appointment with your primary care physician or a neurologist to discuss your symptoms. They will perform a thorough examination and may order additional tests, such as an MRI or nerve conduction study, to determine the underlying cause.

The treatment for facial numbness or weakness depends on the underlying cause. Your healthcare professional will develop a personalized treatment plan that may include:

  • Medications to reduce inflammation or manage pain
  • Physical therapy exercises to strengthen facial muscles
  • Surgical intervention in severe cases

Practice Self-Care

While undergoing treatment, there are several self-care measures you can take to support your recovery:

  • Rest and get an adequate amount of sleep
  • Apply warm compresses to the affected area to alleviate discomfort
  • Avoid excessive stress or anxiety, as it can worsen symptoms
  • Follow a healthy diet and stay hydrated

Seek Emotional Support

Coping with facial numbness or weakness can be emotionally challenging. Reach out to friends, family, or support groups to share your experiences and seek guidance. Emotional support can play a significant role in your overall well-being.


Facial numbness or weakness can be a distressing symptom, but with proper medical attention and treatment, it is often manageable. By understanding the causes and symptoms, you can take the necessary steps to address the issue effectively. Remember to consult a healthcare professional, follow the recommended treatment, practice self-care, and seek emotional support. With time and patience, you can regain control of your facial muscles and alleviate the discomfort associated with facial numbness or weakness.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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