A sudden tingling sensation overtaking your hands, feet, or face is a fairly common complaint reported by people in the United States. It may be a result of either sleeping for prolonged hours on either of your limbs or sitting in the same position when reading or writing.
Medically termed as paresthesia, a tingling sensation is usually an outcome of trauma or injury to the peripheral nervous system (PNS). 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, the transfer of signals may be delayed, slowed, or hampered, affecting the brain’s capacity to interpret signals and send back responses. In order to cope with this phenomenon, the brain responds by associating the sensation to numbness and tingling. These are the first symptoms of a nerve injury.
A mild or temporary tingling marked by a “feeling of pins and needles” can be relieved as soon as the pressure on the associated nerve is relieved. In cases of transient paresthesia, usually caused by a mild nerve compression, the symptoms resolve on their own.
Tingling and sensory problems are common in patients suffering from neurological disorders, chronic painful conditions such as fibromyalgia, and other diseases, complicating the diagnosis at times. However, there is partial clarity in cases of facial tingling.
In nearly all facial injuries, the trigeminal nerve is mechanically compressed, stretched, or inflamed. Facial tingling affects the facial skin region as a numb tingling or a skin crawling feeling often coming without pain in the initial 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 Facial Tingling?
Facial tingling is not a disease per se but a symptom of diseases inflicting the nerve or nerve function.
It may be caused by:
- A psychiatric disease
- Damage inflicted on the upper spinal cord or posterior part of the brain stem
- Dehydration around 5–6 percent
- Improper circulation of blood
- Vitamin B6 deficiency
- Individuals receiving chronic hemodialysis
- Malnutrition in chronic alcoholics
- Pregnancy or lactation
- Medications such as 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 disorder
- A tumor or vascular lesion putting pressure on the brain or spinal cord
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Facial Tingling?
Facial tingling is marked by a characteristic numbness and tingling sensation on the face. It may also be accompanied by:
- Skin sensitivity over the affected facial region
- At times, pain
How Is Facial Tingling Diagnosed?
Evaluating a patient’s medical history is of utmost importance to ascertain the exact problem. Several patients may interpret the loss of sensitivity or any other neurological damage as a case of tingling.
The objective here is to determine the areas with reduced or lost sensations and the perimeters surrounding the affected facial region suggesting nerve damage on a particular point.
Your doctor may prescribe either of the following to ascertain the exact cause:
- MRI or CT scan if the suspected cause is a stroke
- Blood tests if an underlying illness is the cause
- A referral to a psychiatrist if the cause is psychiatric in nature
What Is the Medical Treatment for Facial Tingling?
The treatment for paresthesia will solely rely on diagnosing the cause of your condition.
Mild conditions are generally harmless, involving little or no pain, and tend to resolve spontaneously. However, patients with severe conditions riddled with pain need to seek professional help. The consultant neurologist may prescribe corticosteroids to reduce the tingling sensation.
If severe anxiety, panic attacks, or a psychiatric cause is behind the tingling sensation in your face, your doctor may refer you to a mental health professional.
Natural Ways to Reduce Facial Tingling
Let’s take a look at the natural ways to help you brave through the tingling sensation in your face.
1. Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) focused on sensory training can help the affected patient understand the alterations in the nerve impulses being transmitted.
Sensory reeducation can help the patient relearn his touch perceptions in the case of facial tingling. This form of CBT educates the senses to make out the difference between the moving touch sensation and constant touch sensation. It also helps the patient evaluate the location of the touch on the affected skin. However, the stimulus to trigger the touch perceptions must never be so intense as to inflict pain.
2. Practice Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation combines the attentiveness of meditation with the self-contemplation of the present.
Practicing mindfulness meditation captures your attention in the present, opening the door to consciousness, sensation, your ambiance, acceptance, and being forthright without any room for judgmental thoughts. This will help calm your mind in the process, by combating stress and stimulating the relaxation response of your body.
Mindfulness-based interventions can help relieve the perceptions of pain and also reduce the symptoms of depression in individuals suffering from chronic conditions.
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
A deficiency in vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is associated with nerve damage and tingling, which can be remedied with its supplementation.
The dietary supplementation of pyridoxine is imperative because of the body’s inherent inability to synthesize it. Although our dietary intake is sufficient to cater to our vitamin B6 needs and its deficiency is rare, some individuals are prone to a deficiency of vitamin B6. Adult individuals deficient in vitamin B6 may experience tingling in the hands, legs, and eventually the face.
- Consider taking vitamin B6 supplements upon your doctor’s approval.
4. Drink Turmeric Milk
Turmeric is bestowed with a polyphenol called curcumin that can help resolve facial tingling due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Peripheral nerve damage is initially manifested in the sensory fibers and experienced as pain and tingling. As the nerve fibers are injured, various biological processes come into force 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.
A study has highlighted the supplementation of an adjunct treatment containing turmeric with alpha-lipoic acid to reduce the numbness, pain, and tingling experienced in peripheral neuropathy.
The anti-inflammatory nature of the bioactive ingredient curcumin can help reduce the production of molecules that trigger inflammation. Its antioxidant activity can help combat the oxidative stress that causes the pain, tingling, and numbness in the mechanically compressed nerves.
- Add ½ –1-inch piece of turmeric to a pan.
- Add 8 ounces of milk to the pan containing turmeric.
- Let the mixture boil for about 15 minutes.
- Strain the milk and drink 1 cup of it daily.
Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE) has been accredited with antioxidant and neuroprotective activities that can help fight oxidative stress and reduce nerve damage.
Its medicinal value stems from its ability to prevent oxidation-induced injuries and its positive effects on nerve regeneration, cerebral insufficiency, and peripheral vascular disease.
A study has demonstrated the effects of GBE on the numbness and tingling sensation associated with a compressed nerve. The results highlighted that GBE could inhibit the paresthesias and also facilitate the recovery process for motor function after an injury to the facial nerve.
- The recommended intake of GBE for adults is 120–240 milligrams a day.
Tingling has been associated with many diseases. Prolonged tingling in the face can lead to severe complications. Appropriate treatment is required to reduce any potential risks:
- Brain damage, if the cause of your tingling is a stroke
- Permanent nerve damage
When to See a Doctor
There are varied reasons that can cause a tingling sensation in your face. Consider getting an opinion from a neurologist if you experience:
- A sudden appearance of the tingling sensation
- Tingling that is restricted to one side of the body
- Persistent tingling sensation
These might be signs of an impending stroke.
Prolonged tingling can be a harbinger of other medical conditions, which may be a serious cause of concern. It is important to seek the opinion of a medical professional if symptoms persist beyond minutes.
Facial tingling most often appears as an aftermath of an injury or trauma to the trigeminal nerve. There are several causes that can induce facial tingling and must be addressed accordingly.
Mild cases can be overcome on their own. However, seek immediate medical evaluation in case of prolonged loss of sensation to avoid any adverse consequences.
Trying CBT and practicing mindful meditation can help refurbish your sensory judgments and reduce the tingling sensation in your face.
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- Di Pierro F, Settembre R. Safety and efficacy of an add-on therapy with curcumin phytosome and piperine and/or lipoic acid in subjects with a diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy treated with dexibuprofen. Journal of pain research. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3704545. Published July 3, 2013.
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- Majeed MH, Arooj S, Khokhar MA, Mirza T, Ali AA, Bajwa ZH. Trigeminal Neuralgia: A Clinical Review for the General Physician. Cureus. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30800555. Published 2018.