Facial pain is pain felt in any part of the face, including the mouth and eyes. Although it’s normally due to an injury or a headache, facial pain may also be the result of a serious medical condition. Most causes of facial pain are harmless. However, if you have facial pain that seems to come without any known cause, call your doctor for an evaluation.
Facial pain can be due to anything from an infection to nerve damage in the face. Common causes for facial pain include:
- an oral infection
- an ulcer, or open sore
- an abscess, such as a collection of pus under the surface tissue in the mouth
- a skin abscess, which is a collection of pus under the skin
- a headache
- a facial injury
- a toothache
More serious causes for facial pain include:
- herpes zoster, or shingles
- a migraine
- a sinus infection
- a nerve disorder
It usually happens in short, unpredictable attacks that can last from a few seconds to about 2 minutes. The attacks stop as suddenly as they start.
In most cases, trigiminal neuralgia affects just one side of the face, with the pain usually felt in the lower part of the face. Very occasionally the pain can affect both sides of the face, although not usually at the same time.
What causes trigeminal neuralgia?
Trigeminal neuralgia is usually caused by compression of the trigeminal nerve. This is the nerve inside the skull that transmits sensations of pain and touch from your face, teeth and mouth to your brain.
The compression of the trigeminal nerve is usually caused by a nearby blood vessel pressing on part of the nerve inside the skull.
Trigeminal neuralgia can also happen when the trigeminal nerve is damaged by another medical condition, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or a tumour.
The attacks of pain are usually brought on by activities that involve lightly touching the face, such as washing, eating and brushing the teeth, but they can also be triggered by wind – even a slight breeze or air conditioning – or movement of the face or head. Sometimes the pain can happen without a trigger.