Face Pain

Is this your symptom?

  • Pain in the face (cheek, chin, forehead, or jaw).


There are many possible causes of face pain. Some common minor causes are:

  • Sinus congestion or sinusitis
  • Toothache or dental abscess

Other causes of face pain are:

  • Cellulitis
  • Herpes Zoster
  • Jaw dislocation
  • Migraine
  • Parotitis
  • TMJ syndrome or arthritis
  • Trigeminal neuralgia

Pain Scale

  • None: No pain. Pain score is 0 on a scale of 0 to 10.
  • Mild: The pain does not keep you from work, school, or other normal activities. Pain score is 1-3 on a scale of 0 to 10.
  • Moderate: The pain keeps you from working or going to school. It wakes you up from sleep. Pain score is 4-7 on a scale of 0 to 10.
  • Severe: The pain is very bad. It may be worse than any pain you have had before. It keeps you from doing any normal activities. Pain score is 8-10 on a scale of 0 to 10.

Caution: Sometimes face or jaw pain can be the only symptom of a heart attack. More often there will be other symptoms of a heart problem. These include chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, and sweating.

When to Call for Face Pain

Call 911 Now

  • Similar pain before from "heart attack"
  • Similar pain before from "angina" and not relieved by nitroglycerin
  • You think you have a life-threatening emergency

Call Doctor or Seek Care Now

  • Severe face pain
  • Fever and red area of skin
  • Fever and face is swollen
  • Toothache and face is swollen
  • Swelling around the eye
  • You feel weak or very sick
  • You think you need to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Contact Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Red area of skin that is painful (or tender to touch)
  • Swollen area of skin that is painful (or tender to touch)
  • Looks like a boil, infected sore, or other infected rash
  • Group of small blisters in same area as pain
  • Fever lasts more than 3 days
  • You think you need to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Contact Doctor During Office Hours

  • Face pain keeps you from working or going to school
  • Face pain lasts more than 3 days
  • Face pains on and off for weeks or months (are frequent, come and go)
  • Sharp severe pain(s) last for seconds to minutes and now are gone
  • Clicking or locking in jaw joint (TMJ joint, just in front of ear)
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Mild face pain

Care Advice

Mild Face Pain

  1. What You Should Know:
    • Face pain can be caused by many things. Sinusitis or sinus congestion can cause pain. A toothache can make the face hurt. A skin infection can also cause face pain. Signs of a skin infection are redness and swelling. People with TMJ syndrome may have pain around their jaw joint.
    • The best way to treat face pain will depend on the exact cause.
    • If this pain does not go away, you will need to be examined.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Cold or Heat:
    • Some people find that a cold or heat pack helps with the pain.
    • Cold Pack: Use a cold pack or ice wrapped in a wet cloth. Put it on the sore area for 20 minutes. Repeat 4 times on the first day and then as needed.
    • Heat Pack: Use a heat pack or warm wet washcloth. Do this for 10 minutes and then as needed. Caution: avoid burns. Make sure it is warm, not hot. Never sleep on, or with, a heating pad.
  3. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Severe pain
    • Face redness or swelling
    • Pain lasts more than 3 days
    • Fever lasts more than 3 days
    • You think you need to be seen
    • You get worse

Over-the-Counter Pain Medicines

  1. Pain Medicine:
    • You can take one of the following drugs if you have pain: acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve).
    • They are over-the-counter (OTC) pain drugs. You can buy them at the drugstore.
    • Use the lowest amount of a drug that makes your pain feel better.
    • Acetaminophen is safer than ibuprofen or naproxen in people over 65 years old.
    • Read the instructions and warnings on the package insert for all medicines you take.
  2. Call Your Doctor If:
    • You have more questions
    • You think you need to be seen
    • You get worse

And remember, contact your doctor if you develop any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.

Last Reviewed: 10/11/2023 1:00:45 AM
Last Updated: 4/13/2023 1:00:38 AM

Copyright 2023.

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