Facial paralysis – symptoms, causes and treatment

Facial paralysis means that half the face is paralyzed to some extent. Facial paralysis usually occurs when the nerve that is connected to the muscles of the face is damaged or otherwise affected.

Paralysis of the face can occur for a variety of reasons. They are usually divided into paralysis caused by problems with the nerves and injuries caused by the central nervous system. In most cases of facial paralysis, the symptoms disappear after some time. The condition is about as common in women and men.


There are several different symptoms that can appear in facial paralysis. If the nerve in the muscles of the face is affected, it may be difficult to smile, speak or move the mouth in any other way. The eyelids can start to hang and lead to dry eyes and red eye whites as it can be difficult to blink or close the eyes.

Causes of facial paralysis

Some of the most common causes of facial paralysis are:

  • Viral infections, for example, borrelia
  • Stroke
  • Unknown cause, so-called Bell’s palsy

Below you can read more about the different causes.

Throat infection after tick bite or other viral infection

Facial paralysis can in some cases be linked to viral infections, such as herpes or shingles. Paralysis of the face can also occur when suffering from tick borne disease. A typical symptom of tick borne is a skin redness (annular, oval or regular shape, usually greater than five centimeters in diameter) that occurs between one to four weeks after a tick bite. If you suspect that you have measles, you should seek care at a health center.


Numbness or paralysis on one half of the body, for example on the face, is both a symptom and a consequence of stroke. A hanging mongoose is a facial symptom of stroke. If the person is unable to smile and show their teeth, this is a clear sign. Injuries in the right hemisphere after a stroke can lead to paralysis and impaired sensation in the left side of the face. This is because the right hemisphere controls the movements of the left side of the face. Call 911 directly if you or someone nearby has symptoms of stroke.

Bell’s palsy

If you find no cause of facial paralysis, you usually call it Bell’s palsy, or peripheral facial paralysis. The risk of suffering from Bell’s palsy is higher when you are pregnant or suffering from diabetes. Most people who are diagnosed with Bell’s paresis regain their normal facial function within six months of paralysis.

Treatment of facial paralysis

The method of treatment for facial paralysis depends on the underlying cause of the symptoms. At Bells Pares, it is most common to get cortisone tablets. Borrelia is treated with antibiotics while in some cases viruses are treated with antiviral drugs.

When you have facial paralysis, the paralysis can cause you problems to close your eyes properly. This can make it harder to blink and may need eye aids such as protection or tape. The goal is to protect the eye from corneal damage.

When should you seek care?

If you get numbness and paralysis on your face, you should call 911 for immediate help.

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