Facial Tenderness
Symptoms, Causes, Related Conditions, Questions & Related Topics

Top 6 Causes of Facial Tenderness

Facial tenderness is often considered synonymous with facial pain. However, it can more accurately be described as a pain that occurs when pressure is put on a certain area of the face. You have facial tenderness if you touch a certain part of your face and wince as a result of its soreness.

1. Tooth-Related Problem

The culprit of facial tenderness or pain can often be a toothache or an infection occurring in the mouth. People who notice that they experience more tenderness or pain when they eat, brush their teeth, or do other things requiring interaction with the teeth should seek help from a dentist.[1]

2. Mouth Sore

Many times, a sore inside the mouth is the reason for facial tenderness and pain. You might notice the tenderness itself first and then later realize that there is an open sore in your mouth. Ulcers or canker sores are other terms for mouth sores.[2] If you notice you have a sore that lasts for more than several weeks, is extremely large, or is more painful than any other sore you have had, seek treatment from a doctor.

3. Injury

An injury can lead to facial soreness, pain, or tenderness. If you were hit with a ball while playing sports, for example, or if you fell on your face, you might have simply bruised the area. However, major swelling and/or difficulty moving the area can be a sign that your injury was more severe and could require a doctor’s visit. If not, over-the-counter painkillers might be able to treat the tender area until it heals.

4. Headache

A normal headache can produce facial tenderness. Many people like to press on their temples when they have a headache or try to rub the area of the pain because it lessens the sensation. This can be helpful, as can over-the-counter painkillers, rest, and stress-busting techniques such as exercising or taking a hot bath. Sometimes, however, headaches can be much worse or too frequent and require medical help.

5. Infection

An infection in the mouth, on the face, or in another related area could lead to facial tenderness. This can usually be identified if your face swells, becomes red, oozes, or becomes bumpy. Oral thrush, for example, is a type of infection that develops inside the mouth and could make the face feel tender.[3] Another type of infection that could cause facial tenderness is a cold or the flu. These sicknesses can lead to swollen sinuses and sinus pressure, causing the areas under the eyes, at the top of the nose, and on the forehead to become slightly swollen, as well as eye pain.

Possible Health Conditions Related to Facial Tenderness

1. Migraines

Migraines are extremely severe headaches that can cause facial tenderness and pain as well as an aura, which is similar to a strange lightshow that only the person having the migraine can see.[4] Temporary vision impairment can also occur. Migraines usually hurt on one side of the head and are debilitating. It’s difficult to ascertain what causes a migraine, as almost anything can cause them in different individuals: certain foods, stress, hormonal changes, smells, or even the lack or overabundance of sleep. If you experience migraines frequently, it’s important to talk to your doctor about how you can learn to cope with and fight them.

2. Sinusitis

People who have colds or the flu often experience facial tenderness, but if this condition lasts for more than a week, especially after the cold itself subsides, it could be a sign of sinusitis.[5] Sinusitis occurs when sinus tissue lining becomes inflamed, usually as the result of a virus or infection, and does not improve over time. Smoking can increase your risk of sinusitis. There are ways to remedy this issue at home, such as using a Neti pot, but you might require medications prescribed by your doctor if the problem persists.

3. Shingles

Some people experience shingles on their face, which can lead to facial tenderness and pain. Shingles is a type of rash that occurs because of the same virus that causes chickenpox.[6] Other signs of shingles, besides the rash that starts out as blisters and usually scabs over, are fever, chills, stomach issues, and headache.

4. Trigeminal Neuralgia

Neuralgia is pain that runs down a nerve path in the body. Trigeminal neuralgia involves shocking pain felt along the facial nerve.[7] This issue could be triggered by multiple sclerosis, a tumor or swollen blood vessel pressing on the nerve, or an injury to the nerve. This disorder is extremely painful, and even a simple touch or noise can trigger the shocking pain caused by trigeminal neuralgia. Treatment depends on the issue that is causing the pain. For example, surgery is necessary if the cause is a tumor, but anti-seizure drugs can be effective in other cases.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Your Facial Tenderness

  • How long have you been dealing with facial tenderness?
  • What does the pain feel like? Is it shooting, stabbing, shocking, constant, or something else?
  • How long does the pain usually last?
  • Where is the pain located on your face?
  • Have you noticed any triggers that cause the pain to occur?
  • Do you have any other symptoms?

Facial Tenderness May Also Be Known as

  • Facial pain
  • Facial discomfort
  • Facial soreness


  1. Mayo Clinic. Toothache: First Aid. https://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-toothache/basics/art-20056628.
  2. HealthLine. Mouth Ulcers. https://www.healthline.com/symptom/mouth-ulcers.
  3. HealthLine. Oral Thrush. https://www.healthline.com/health/thrush.
  4. National Library of Medicine. Migraine. https://medlineplus.gov/migraine.html.
  5. National Library of Medicine. Sinusitis. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000647.htm.
  6. National Library of Medicine. Shingles. https://medlineplus.gov/shingles.html.
  7. National Library of Medicine. Trigeminal neuralgia. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000742.htm.

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