Paresthesia is the medical term for unusual skin sensations, such as tingling, prickling, or numbness. Facial paresthesia can be a symptom of various conditions, which can be harmless or serious.

This article discusses when to see a doctor about facial tingling and lists some potential causes and associated symptoms.

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Facial tingling can feel like pins and needles or a creeping or crawling sensation in the skin. Depending on the cause, it may come on slowly or suddenly. It may occur briefly or intermittently or persist for days, weeks, or even months.

There are many potential causes of facial tingling ranging from benign to serious. Anyone experiencing facial tingling should see a doctor to determine the cause.

It may be a medical emergency if a person experiences sudden facial tingling and other concerning symptoms, including:

Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek emergency medical treatment.

Below are some potential causes of facial tingling and their associated symptoms.


As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains, shingles is a viral infection that can cause a painful skin rash on one side of the face or body. Tingling sensations in the skin can be one of the first signs of shingles, with the rash typically appearing several days later.

A shingles rash consists of blisters that generally scab over within 7 to 10 days and fully clear within 2 to 4 weeks.

Other common symptoms include:

  • headache
  • chills
  • gastrointestinal issues

Without immediate treatment, shingles can cause severe complications. Anyone experiencing facial tingling or prickling alongside any of the above symptoms should see a doctor for a diagnosis. The doctor may prescribe antiviral treatment.

Learn more about shingles.

Bell’s palsy

As the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke explains, Bell’s Palsy (BP) is a neurological disorder that causes weakness or paralysis of the muscles on one side of the face. This happens when the nerve that controls the facial muscles becomes injured or stops functioning properly.

People with BP may develop facial pain or paresthesia. Other possible symptoms include:

  • sudden one-sided facial weakness or paralysis, typically developing within 48 to 72 hours
  • difficulty closing one eyelid
  • one-sided facial drooping
  • drooling from one side of the mouth

Most people with BP recover some or all of their facial function within weeks or months, although the effects may be permanent for some people.

Learn more about Bell’s palsy.

Multiple sclerosis

As the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America explains, multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system.

In MS, the immune system mistakenly attacks and damages the protective myelin sheaths that surround and insulate the nerves. This damage disrupts nerve impulses, causing impairments in nerve functioning.

The UK-based charity Multiple Sclerosis Trust notes that MS can cause altered sensations in any part of the body, most commonly the face, torso, and limbs. These can develop early in the course of the disease and may present as:

  • tingling
  • prickling
  • crawling
  • trickling
  • itching

Other symptoms that could occur early in MS include:

  • fatigue
  • slowed thinking
  • balance issues
  • sudden eyesight problems

Someone experiencing these symptoms should see a doctor for diagnosis.

Learn more about MS.

Connective tissue disorders

Connective tissue disorders (CTDs) affect the body’s connective tissues, such as bones, cartilage, and fat. As the United Kingdom’s National Health Service explains, many CTDs result from autoimmune diseases that attack the body’s connective tissues.

A 2022 study notes that some CTDs cause trigeminal neuralgia, which is a sudden onset of facial numbness that people may experience alongside pain or paresthesia. This numbness may occur on one or both sides of the face. Anyone experiencing facial numbness should see a doctor for a diagnosis.

Some CTDs that may cause TN include:

Each of the conditions above has its own set of symptoms.

Brain tumor

According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), a brain tumor may cause a creeping or tingling sensation on one side of the face or body, which may come and go for months. Other potential symptoms include:

  • muscle spasms and seizures
  • unexplained issues with speech, hearing, or vision
  • confusion
  • personality changes

Someone experiencing these symptoms should see a doctor for diagnosis.

Learn more about the early symptoms of a brain tumor.

Nasal and paranasal sinus cancer

Nasal and paranasal sinus cancers are those that affect the nose and sinuses. According to UK-based charity Cancer Research UK, these cancers can cause persistent pain, numbness, or tingling in the face, particularly the upper cheek. Other potential symptoms include:

  • persistent nasal congestion
  • nosebleeds
  • double vision, or vision loss
  • a persistent lump or growth anywhere on the face

Most cases of facial tingling are due to conditions other than cancer. However, anyone who also experiences one or more of the symptoms above should see a doctor to rule out cancer as a potential cause.

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about facial tingling.

Can high blood pressure cause tingling in the face?

As the American Heart Association (AHA) explains, high blood pressure does not typically cause symptoms. As such, facial tingling is unlikely due to high blood pressure.

Does your face tingle before a stroke?

According to the American Stroke Association (ASA), facial numbness, tingling, or weakness can be a sign of stroke.

A person who experiences unusual sensations in their face in addition to any of the following symptoms of stroke should seek emergency medical care:

  • confusion, such as difficulty speaking or understanding speech
  • difficulty seeing in one or both eyes
  • difficulty walking due to dizziness or a loss of balance or coordination
  • severe headache

Learn more about stroke.

Facial tingling or “paresthesia” is a symptom of several conditions ranging from benign to serious. These include colds and sinus infections and neurological conditions such as Bell’s palsy. Multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease, and cancer may also cause this symptom.

Anyone experiencing facial tingling alongside other concerning symptoms should see a doctor to determine the cause.

In some cases, unusual facial sensations may indicate a stroke or other medical emergency. If people experience confusion, a sudden and severe headache, and problems with balance or vision, they should call 911.