Facial numbness can be located on one or both sides of the face, and can range from mild sensation loss to complete paralysis of the affected area. The causes of facial numbness vary greatly, with Bell's palsy being one major cause. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, an estimated one in every 5,000 people in the United States suffer from Bell's palsy in each year.
One leading cause of face numbness is injury or damage to a nerve. According to the Mayo Clinic, Bell's palsy is a paralysis of the facial nerve. This weakening can be sudden, or occur over the course of a couple days. A family member usually notices the patient's slurred speech or unresponsive facial muscles.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, nerve damage or injury can cause numbness. A cervical disc lesion may compress the spinal nerves enough to lead to face numbness. This numbness may be symmetrical or unilateral, and the feeling of numbness may vary.
Central Nervous System Disorders
Strokes are one disorder that may also cause numbness or paralysis of the face. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel ruptures and causes a lack of oxygen to the brain. This lack of oxygen can affect one side of the face. In some cases, the person having the stroke will still be able to close an eye or wrinkle his forehead, unlike with Bell's palsy, in which paralysis is complete. A stroke may also cause symptoms in other muscles.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health list other disorders which may cause face numbness, including multiple sclerosis which affects muscle control and miniature strokes called transient ischemic attacks.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health claim that vitamin deficiency can cause numbness throughout the body. If the body lacks a vitamin such as B12, facial numbness, or numbness in other areas, may result.
Facial numbness can also be caused by atypical levels of potassium, calcium or sodium in the body. This can usually be treated with a simple vitamin supplement.
Numbness of the face may be a result of a panic attack or a hyperventilation syndrome, stress or depression. Relaxation exercises or meditation may help alleviate symptoms in this case.
Perioral numbness, or that which is around the mouth, may also precede migraines or accompany migraines in some sufferers.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, infections may also cause facial numbness. Herpes, lyme disease, diabetes and syphilis are all examples of infections or diseases that may cause facial numbness, says the Mayo Clinic.
A lack of blood to the area from pressure over time may also be a cause of facial numbness. Only a doctor can make the distinction, but if numbness occurs, that person should contact a doctor immediately.