A sudden tingling sensation extending beyond your hands, feet, or face is a fairly common complaint reported by people in the United States. This can be caused by sleeping for long hours on one of your limbs or sitting in the same position while reading or writing.
Medically called paresthesia, a tingling sensation is usually the result of trauma or damage to the peripheral nervous system (SNP). The PNS is a component of the nervous system that connects the brain to the various organs of the body through a network of nerve fibers. It transmits information back and forth in the form of nerve impulses or signals.
When a nerve is pinched or compressed, signal transfer can be delayed, slowed or hampered, affecting the brain’s ability to interpret signals and return responses. In order to cope with this phenomenon, the brain reacts by associating the sensation with numbness and tingling. These are the first symptoms of nerve damage.
A slight or temporary tingling marked by a “feeling of pins and needles” can be relieved as soon as the pressure on the associated nerve is released. With transient paraesthesia, usually caused by mild nerve compression, the symptoms go away on their own.
Tingling and sensory problems are common in patients with neurological disorders, chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia and other diseases, which sometimes complicate the diagnosis. However, there is partial clarity in cases of facial tingling.
In almost all facial injuries, the trigeminal nerve is mechanically compressed, stretched, or inflamed. Facial tingling affects the area of the facial skin in the form of numb tingling or a feeling of skin crawling, often painless in the early stages. If the predominant symptom is facial pain, then the disorder is called trigeminal neuralgia, a relatively well-characterized neurological disorder of the trigeminal nerve.
What can cause tingling in the face?
Facial tingling is not a disease in itself but a symptom of diseases affecting the nerve or nerve function.
It can be caused by:
- Psychiatric illness
- Damage to the upper spinal cord or the back of the brainstem
- Dehydration of about 5 to 6%
- Poor blood circulation
- Vitamin B6 deficiency
- People receiving chronic hemodialysis
- Malnutrition in chronic alcoholics
- Pregnancy or breastfeeding
- Drugs like penicillamine, isoniazid or phenelzine
- Medical conditions related to the nervous system such as:
- Transverse myelitis
- Injury to the dental and facial region
- Compression of the trigeminal nerve
- Autoimmune disease
- A tumor or vascular lesion that puts pressure on the brain or spinal cord
What are the signs and symptoms of facial tingling?
The tingling of the face is marked by numbness and a characteristic tingling sensation on the face. It can also be accompanied by:
- Skin sensitivity on the affected facial region
- Sometimes the pain
How is facial tingling diagnosed?
Assessing a patient’s medical history is of utmost importance in determining the exact problem. Many patients may interpret loss of sensitivity or other neurological damage as a tingling case.
The objective here is to determine the areas with reduced or lost sensations and the perimeters surrounding the affected facial region suggesting a nerve damage on a particular point.
Your doctor may prescribe any of the following to determine the exact cause:
- MRI or CT scan if the suspected cause is a stroke
- Blood tests if an underlying disease is the cause
- A referral to a psychiatrist if the cause is of a psychiatric nature
What is the medical treatment for facial tingling?
Treatment for paraesthesia will only be based on diagnosing the cause of your condition.
Mild conditions are generally harmless, causing little to no pain and tend to go away on their own. However, patients with severe conditions riddled with pain should consult a professional. The consulting neurologist may prescribe corticosteroids to reduce the tingling sensation.
If severe anxiety, panic attacks, or a psychiatric cause are causing the tingling sensation in your face, your doctor may refer you to a mental health professional.
Natural ways to reduce tingling of the face
Let’s take a look at natural ways to help you deal with the tingling sensation on your face.
1. Try cognitive behavior therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) focused on sensory training can help the affected patient understand the alterations in the transmitted nerve impulses.
Sensory rehabilitation can help the patient to relearn his tactile perceptions in the event of facial tingling. This form of CBT educates the senses to differentiate between moving tactile sensation and constant tactile sensation. It also helps the patient to assess the location of touch on the affected skin. However, the stimulus to trigger tactile perceptions should never be as intense as it causes pain.
2. Practice mindfulness meditation
Mindfulness meditation combines the attention of meditation with self-contemplation of the present.
Practicing mindfulness meditation captures your attention in the present, opening the door to awareness, feeling, mood, acceptance and openness with no room for judgmental thoughts. This will help calm your mind in the process, fighting stress and stimulating your body’s relaxation response.
Mindfulness-based interventions can help relieve pain perceptions and also reduce symptoms of depression in people with chronic illnesses.
Although there is no direct link between facial tingling and meditation therapies, practicing mindfulness meditation can help manage stress and depression, two of the causes of facial tingling.
3. Consider Vitamin B6 Supplements
Vitamin B deficiency6, also known as pyridoxine, is associated with nerve damage and tingling, which can be corrected by supplementation.
Dietary supplementation with pyridoxine is imperative because of the body’s inherent inability to synthesize it. Although our food intake is sufficient to meet our vitamin B6 needs and its deficiency is rare, some people are prone to a vitamin B deficiency6. Vitamin B deficient adults6 may feel tingling in the hands, legs and possibly the face.
- Consider taking vitamin B6 supplements with your doctor’s approval.
4. Drink turmeric milk
Turmeric has a polyphenol called curcumin which can help resolve tingling of the face due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Damage to the peripheral nerves initially manifests in the sensory fibers and manifests as pain and tingling. When nerve fibers are damaged, various biological processes take place and the damage appears in the form of pain, tingling and numbness. Oxidative stress and inflammation are among the many processes that contribute to nerve damage.
One study found that supplementing an adjuvant treatment with turmeric with alpha-lipoic acid to reduce the numbness, pain and tingling that occurs in peripheral neuropathy has been shown.
The anti-inflammatory nature of curcumin, a bioactive ingredient, can help reduce the production of molecules that trigger inflammation. Its antioxidant activity can help combat oxidative stress that causes pain, tingling and numbness in mechanically compressed nerves.
- Add ½ to 1 inch of turmeric to a saucepan.
- Add 8 ounces of milk to the pan containing turmeric.
- Let the mixture boil for about 15 minutes.
- Filter the milk and drink 1 cup per day.
Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE) has been accredited for its antioxidant and neuroprotective activities that can help fight oxidative stress and reduce nerve damage.
Its medicinal value stems from its ability to prevent injuries caused by oxidation and its positive effects on nerve regeneration, cerebral insufficiency and peripheral vascular diseases.
One study demonstrated the effects of EBG on the numbness and tingling sensation associated with a compressed nerve. The results showed that GBE could inhibit paraesthesia and also facilitate the process of recovery of motor function after damage to the facial nerve.
- The recommended intake of GBE for adults is 120 to 240 milligrams per day.
Tingling has been associated with many illnesses. Prolonged tingling in the face can lead to serious complications. Appropriate treatment is necessary to reduce the potential risks:
- Brain damage, if the cause of your tingling is a stroke
- Permanent nerve damage
When to consult a doctor
There are different reasons that can cause a tingling sensation in your face. Consider getting the advice of a neurologist if you experience:
- Sudden onset of tingling sensation
- Tingling limited to one side of the body
- Persistent tingling sensation
It could be a sign of an impending stroke.
Prolonged tingling can be a harbinger of other medical conditions, which can be a serious concern. It is important to seek the advice of a healthcare practitioner if symptoms persist beyond a few minutes.
Facial tingling most often occurs as a result of injury or trauma to the trigeminal nerve. Several causes can cause facial tingling and should be treated accordingly.
Mild cases can be overcome by themselves. However, seek immediate medical evaluation in the event of prolonged loss of sensation to avoid any undesirable consequences.
Trying CBT and practicing conscious meditation can help refresh your sensory judgments and reduce the tingling sensation on your face.
- Phillips C, Blakey G, Essick GK. Sensory recycling: a cognitive behavioral therapy for altered sensation. Atlas of oral and maxillofacial surgery clinics in North America. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3073500. Published in March 2011.
- Di Pierro F, Settembre R. Safety and efficacy of a complementary therapy with the curcumin phytosome and piperine and / or lipoic acid in subjects diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy treated with dexibuprofen. Pain Research Journal. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3704545. Posted July 3, 2013.
- Jang CH, Cho YB, Choi CH. Effect of ginkgo biloba extract on recovery from crushed facial nerve injury in rats. International journal of pediatric otorhinolaryngology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23021527. Published in December 2012.
- Edenfield TM, Saeed SA. An update on mindfulness meditation as a self-help treatment for anxiety and depression. Research in psychology and behavior management. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3500142. Published November 23, 2012.
- Hammond N, Wang Y, Dimachkie MM, Barohn RJ. Nutritional neuropathies. Neurological clinics. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4199287. Published in May 2013.
- Majeed MH, Arooj S, Khokhar MA, Mirza T, Ali AA, Bajwa ZH. Trigeminal neuralgia: a clinical review for the general practitioner. Cureus. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30800555. Published in 2018.