Tingling in Head: Causes, Treatment, and Related Conditions
Experiencing tingling or pins-and-needles in your head can be unsettling. These sensations can affect neighboring parts of your body, too, such as the face and neck. You might also feel numbness or burning.
Known as paresthesia, the tingling sensation is common in the limbs (arms, legs) and extremities (hands, feet). You’ve probably experienced temporary paresthesia after sitting with your legs crossed for too long or falling asleep with your arm behind your head.
Paresthesia can occur when a nerve sustains continued pressure. When you remove the source of pressure, it often goes away. Injuries or illnesses that damage the nerves can also cause it.
Head paresthesia has a wide variety of causes. It can be temporary (acute) or ongoing (chronic). Read on to find out more about tingling in the head.
Causes of head tingling or numbness
Most of the conditions that cause tingling in the head aren’t serious. In rare cases, head tingling can be a sign of a serious medical problem.
Colds and sinus infections (sinusitis)
The sinuses are a series of connected cavities behind your nose, cheeks, and forehead. Infections such as colds, flus, and sinusitis can cause the sinuses to become swollen and inflamed. Enlarged sinuses can compress nearby nerves, leading to head tingling.
Migraines and other headaches
Migraines cause intense throbbing or pulsing pain on one or both sides of the head. Changes in blood flow and pressure in the head may result in tingling. A migraine aura occurs before a migraine. It can cause sensory symptoms, such as tingling, typically in the face.
Other headaches that may trigger head tingling include:
Stress or anxiety
Stress can sometimes lead to tingling in the head. Stressful situations activate your body’s fight-or-flight response. Stress hormones, such as norepinephrine, direct blood to the areas of the body that need it most. As a result, you might experience tingling or a lack of sensation in other areas.
Injuries that impact the base of the skull can damage nerves inside the brain. This can lead to symptoms such as facial paralysis, numbness, or tingling. Injuries directly to the nerves responsible for the sensation to the head may also cause tingling or numbness in the injured area.
Diabetes is a common metabolic disorder associated with high blood sugar. Over time, untreated diabetes can lead to nerve damage. Although cranial nerve damage is less common, who have diabetes can develop it. It can cause numbness in the face and other areas of the head.
Multiple sclerosis (MS)
MS is a chronic, degenerative disease that affects the central nervous system. Tingling and numbness are common symptoms. They can affect the face, neck, and other parts of the head.
Epilepsy and seizures
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes seizures. Certain types of seizures, such as simple partial seizures, can cause tingling in the face.
Infections that cause nerve damage
Bacterial and viral infections can affect the nerves in the head, triggering tingling and numbness in the head, face, and neck. Some of these conditions include:
Autoimmune diseases that cause nerve damage
Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues. Sometimes, the nerves in the brain are affected, leading to head or face tingling. Some autoimmune conditions that cause head tingling include:
Drugs and other substances
Tingling or numbness in the head can be a side effect of some medications, such as chemotherapy drugs or anticonvulsants. Misusing alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs can also cause head tingling.
Neurodegenerative conditions, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, are characterized by neuron damage or loss. Some of these conditions can cause tingling in the head.
A number of other conditions can cause head tingling, including:
Specific symptoms and causes
The location of your head tingling may help your doctor determine its cause. Other symptoms can also provide clues. Keep a record of all your symptoms to share with your doctor.
Here are some specific symptoms of head tingling and what could be causing them:
Tingling in head on one side only
Certain conditions may cause tingling on only one side of the head. Tingling can be on different areas on the left or the right side of the head, including the top of the head, back of the head, ear, temple, or face.
The following conditions can cause tingling on only one side of the head or face:
Tingling in the head and face
Tingling in the head can occur alongside tingling in the face on one or both sides. Conditions that can cause tingling in the head and face include:
- Bell’s palsy
- brain aneurysm
- brain tumor
- cold and sinus infections
- infections that affect the facial nerve
- migraines and other headaches
- stress or anxiety
Tingling on one side of the face could be a warning sign of a stroke. A stroke is life-threatening and requires emergency medical attention. Knowing the signs of a stroke can help you act quickly.
Tingling in the head and neck
When a nerve in the neck becomes irritated, it can cause pain and tingling in the neck or head. Herniated discs and bone spurs can result in a pinched nerve. This can lead to neck tingling, known as cervical radiculopathy.
Other sources of head and neck tingling include:
- migraines and other headaches
- stress or anxiety
Tingling in the head and dizziness
When head tingling is accompanied by dizziness or light-headedness, it could indicate:
Head paresthesia is often temporary. Depending on the cause, it could go away on its own. Otherwise, home remedies and lifestyle changes might help improve your symptoms.
Your day-to-day posture and stress level can contribute to head tingling. Try the following:
- Get more sleep.
- Reduce sources of stress in your life where possible.
- Make time for relaxing activities, such as meditation or walking.
- Avoid repetitive movements.
- Exercise regularly.
- Maintain good posture.
- Seek treatment for an underlying health condition.
Treating the underlying condition often relieves head tingling. Make an appointment to discuss your symptoms with your doctor. They can evaluate your symptoms to identify the source of the head tingling.
Prescription and over-the-counter medications can treat colds, sinus infections, and other infections that are causing your head tingling. Other conditions, such as diabetes and MS, require a combination of lifestyle changes, medication, and alternative therapies.
If you suspect the tingling is a side effect of any medication you’re currently using, speak to your doctor. They can find another medication that will work for you or see if you’re able to discontinue use. Don’t suddenly stop taking any medication without the OK from your doctor.
General treatments for head tingling include topical creams, medications, and physical therapy in some cases. Alternative therapies that can help include:
When to see your doctor
Tingling in the head is sometimes a sign of an underlying condition that needs medical treatment. See your doctor if head tingling is getting in the way of your everyday activities or if it isn’t going away. Your doctor can determine its cause and find the right treatment for you.
If you don’t already have a primary care doctor, the Healthline FindCare tool can help you find a physician in your area.
Although tingling is less common in the head, it can occur. It’s often not a sign of a serious medical condition. With treatment, tingling in the head usually goes away.
What can cause a tingling sensation on the scalp?
A tingling, prickling, or pins-and-needles sensation on the skin is called paresthesia. A wide range of factors can cause paresthesia on the scalp.
In most cases, paresthesia on the scalp is temporary. People may also feel itching, burning, or numbness.
If it lasts for a long time or comes back regularly, paresthesia may result from an underlying nerve disorder or nerve damage.
This tingling sensation on the scalp can arise from a wide range of factors, including:
Paresthesia can also be a side effect of some medications.
This tingling is not always unpleasant. ASMR is a pleasurable tingling sensation that begins in the scalp and moves down the back.
Here, we explore the wide range of factors that can cause a tingling sensation on the scalp. We also describe how a doctor makes a diagnosis and possible treatments.
ASMR is a sensory experience, in which an auditory or visual trigger stimulates a tingling sensation on the skin.
This tends to start in the scalp and move down the neck into the back, following the line of the spine and spreading into the arms, as well. Many people describe it as a pleasurable or relaxing experience.
Not everyone experiences ASMR. For those who do, watching online videos can stimulate the sensation and help with relaxation or sleep.
Skin irritation or a sensitive scalp
A common, temporary cause of a tingling scalp is irritation. A trigger for this irritation is often a chemical in a product, such as:
- laundry detergent or dyes
- heat treatments for the hair
- hair dye or bleach
- highly fragranced shampoos or conditioners
- other cosmetic products
Also, when too much shampoo or conditioner remains on the scalp, this can cause tingling and itching, so it is important to rinse the hair thoroughly.
Some people have more sensitive scalps than others. This sensitivity may relate to having fewer oil-producing glands on the scalp, making it drier. Or, it may result from having more sensitive nerve endings.
When a doctor can find no other clear cause of scalp tingling, sensitivity may be to blame.
A range of skin conditions can cause tightness, itching, and a tingling sensation on the scalp. These symptoms often accompany a rash, and they may appear before the rash begins.
Some of these skin conditions include:
- Seborrheic dermatitis. This causes swollen, red patches of skin that may have white- or yellow-crusted scaling. It can also cause itching and scalp tingling. In infants, doctors call seborrheic dermatitis “cradle cap.”
- Scalp eczema. Also called atopic dermatitis, eczema causes itchy, dry, thick patches of skin. It is more common in children than adults, and it often affects the nape of the neck.
- Psoriasis. One form, called plaque psoriasis, causes red patches of skin with silvery scales to develop on the body, and scalp psoriasis is a common manifestation.
Medication side effects
Certain medications can cause paresthesia, a tingling sensation on the skin, as a side effect.
This does not tend to be serious, and it does not usually require people to stop using the medication. However, consult a doctor if the tingling is extremely bothersome.
Labetalol, a beta-blocker that treats high blood pressure, can cause a mild, temporary tingling sensation on the scalp or skin. This usually occurs when a person starts taking the medication.
Some medications that treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, also have this side effect. For instance, lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse) caused paresthesia in 2% of participants who took it during a clinical study.
Ringworm is a fungal infection that can cause symptoms in areas with hair, such as the scalp. The infection can cause hair loss, in addition to scalp tingling and pain.
Topical and prescription antifungal treatments are available, including antifungal shampoos.
Head lice or mites
Head lice are small insects that live in a person’s hair and feed on blood from their scalp. Their bites can be very itchy.
One of the early signs of head lice is a tingling sensation on the scalp or the feeling of something moving under the hair. A person may also notice itching and painful red areas of skin where the lice have fed.
People can sometimes see the lice or their eggs near the base of hair shafts. Lice have six legs and are black or whitish gray as adults, while the eggs may appear as small white or yellow dots.
Lice are most common among children. They can pass from person to person and are especially likely to spread in kindergartens, day care centers, and other schools.
Alopecia (hair loss)
Alopecia is a blanket term for conditions that cause hair loss. When hair follicles are damaged or irritated, it can cause itching or tingling, as well as areas of hair thinning.
When tingling, discomfort, or pain in the scalp results from hair loss, the symptom is called trichodynia. It can result from conditions such as telogen effluvium and alopecia areata.
Anxiety or stress
A tingling sensation, or paresthesia, in the scalp is often the result of issues with the nerves, and some people experience nerve-related symptoms due to anxiety or stress.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, panic attacks can cause paresthesia. This may relate to how blood flow changes in response to psychological stress and may also be linked with stress hormones.
Other symptoms of a panic attack include:
- a rapid heart rate
- chest pain
- difficulty breathing
At the onset of a migraine episode, a person may have a sensory experience called an aura. The sensations may be visual, auditory, or tactile and can include tingling or prickling sensations on the skin.
Visual auras are the most common type, occurring in more than 90% of people who experience auras during migraine episodes. The next most common type of aura involves a pins-and-needles sensation.
Called a paresthesia aura, this sensation travels outward from its origin and generally affects one side of the face or body. People may also experience numbness afterward.
Shingles is a medical condition caused by the varicella zoster virus.
It occurs in people who have previously had chickenpox, which results from the same virus. After chickenpox subsides, the virus lies dormant in the body and can reactivate years later, causing shingles.
Shingles is characterized by a blistering rash. This tends to develop on one side of the face or body — including the scalp — and often on a single strip of skin. A person may experience itchiness, pain, or tingling on the skin before the rash develops.
Shingles also causes the following symptoms:
The nerves relay sensory information from the skin to the brain. When this signal is interrupted, people may experience unusual sensations on their skin.
A tingling sensation can arise when there is pressure on the nerves, such as when a person sits in a position that causes their legs to “fall asleep.” This is paresthesia, and it goes away when the pressure on the nerve is relieved.
A pinched nerve or nerve injury can cause paresthesia that lasts longer or returns frequently.
Medical conditions that affect the nerves can also cause tingling and numbness in various parts of the body.
One example is multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic nerve condition. In people with MS, paresthesia most often occurs in the arms, legs, or face. Learn about the early signs of MS here.
Some people with diabetes also experience tingling and numbness. Diabetes can cause small blood vessel damage that leads to nerve damage.
The medical term for this nerve damage is diabetic peripheral neuropathy, and it usually affects the feet, arms, or legs, but it can arise in other parts of the body.
Fibromyalgia is an example of a chronic pain syndrome, and it causes a person to have a heightened response to pain. Fibromyalgia also commonly involves paresthesia.
Other symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
- stiff muscles in the morning
- poor sleep
- cognitive difficulties
- widespread pain without an obvious trigger
A doctor will first ask a person about their symptoms, such as when the symptoms appeared and what makes them worse or better. They will also perform a physical exam to look for rashes, bites, burns, and other signs.
If the doctor suspects that a skin condition is causing the tingling, they may take a small sample of skin from the scalp to examine under a microscope. This is called a skin biopsy.
They may also collect some hairs and examine these for signs of affected growth, the presence of lice, or other signs of damage.
If the doctor suspects a condition that affects the nerves, they may perform other tests and assessments.
Treatments for scalp tingling depend on the underlying cause.
It may help to use products that do not contain fragrances or harsh chemicals. Switching to a soft-bristled brush and avoiding heat treatments can also help.
Avoid products that contain the following irritants:
- sodium lauryl sulfate
- sodium laureth sulfate
The labeling for many products refers to sodium laurel and sodium laureth sulfates as SLS.
A doctor can advise about the best treatment when paresthesia results from an underlying condition, such as those involving the nerves or skin, migraine episodes, or infection.
There are many causes of a tingling sensation on the scalp. For most people, this is a temporary symptom, but if it lasts for a long period or arises frequently, it can indicate an underlying medical condition.
Most causes are treatable, and the treatments vary widely.
|Occipital Neuralgia | American Association of Neurological Surgeons|
Occipital Neuralgia is a condition in which the occipital nerves, the nerves that run through the scalp, are injured or inflamed. This causes headaches that feel like severe piercing, throbbing or shock-like pain in the upper neck, back of the head or behind the ears.
Occipital neuralgia can be the result of pinched nerves or muscle tightness in the neck. It can also be caused by a head or neck injury. Occipital neuralgia can either be primary or secondary. A secondary condition is associated with an underlying disease.
Although any of the following may be causes of occipital neuralgia, many cases can be attributed to chronic neck tension or unknown origins.
Symptoms of occipital neuralgia include continuous aching, burning and throbbing, with intermittent shocking or shooting pain that generally starts at the base of the head and goes to the scalp on one or both sides of the head. Patients often have pain behind the eye of the affected side of the head. Additionally, a movement as light as brushing hair may trigger pain. The pain is often described as migraine-like and some patients may also experience symptoms common to migraines and cluster headaches.
When & How to Seek Medical Care
Occipital neuralgia can be very difficult to diagnose because of its similarities with migraines and other headache disorders. Therefore, it is important to seek medical care when you begin feeling unusual, sharp pain in the neck or scalp and the pain is not accompanied by nausea or light sensitivity. Begin by addressing the problem with your primary care physician. They may refer you to a specialist.
Testing & Diagnosis
Diagnosis of occipital neuralgia is tricky, because there is not one concrete test that will reveal a positive or negative diagnosis. Typically, a physical examination and neurological exam will be done to look for abnormalities. If the physical and neurological exams are inconclusive, a doctor may order further imaging to rule out any other possible causes of the pain. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test may be ordered, which can show three-dimensional images of certain body structures and can reveal any impingement. A computed tomography scan (CT or CAT scan) will show the shape and size of body structures. Some doctors may use occipital nerve blocks to confirm their diagnosis.
Treatment of occipital neuralgia aims to alleviate the pain; however, it is not a cure. Interventions can be surgical or non-surgical.
- Occipital Nerve Stimulation: This surgical treatment involves the placement of electrodes under the skin near the occipital nerves. The procedure works the same way as spinal cord stimulation and uses the same device. The procedure is minimally invasive and surrounding nerves and structures are not damaged by the stimulation. It is an off-label indication for an FDA-approved device.
- Spinal Cord Stimulation: this surgical treatment involves the placement of stimulating electrodes between the spinal cord and the vertebrae. The device produces electrical impulses to block pain messages from the spinal cord to the brain.
- C2,3 Ganglionectomy- This treatment involves the disruption of the second and third cervical sensory dorsal root ganglion. Acar et al (2008) studied the short-term and long-term effects of this procedure. The study found that 95% of patients had immediate relief with 60% maintaining relief past one year.
Patients are encouraged to regularly follow up with their primary care providers and specialists to maintain their treatment. Surgeons like patients to return to the clinic every few months in the year following the surgery. In these visits, they may adjust the stimulation settings and assess the patient’s recovery from surgery. Following up with a doctor ensures that the patient is getting correct and effective care. Patients who undergo occipital nerve stimulation will follow up with a device representative who will adjust their device settings and parameters as needed, alongside their doctors.
- Sweet, J. A., Mitchell, L. S., Narouze, S., Sharan, A. D., Falowski, S. M., Schwalb, J. M., … Pilitsis, J. G. (2015). Occipital Nerve Stimulation for the Treatment of Patients With Medically Refractory Occipital Neuralgia. Neurosurgery, 77(3), 332–341. doi: 10.1227/neu.0000000000000872J This systematic review compiles treatment recommendations for the use of occipital nerve stimulation to treat occipital neuralgia. The review found various articles supporting these recommendaitons.
- Janjua, M. B., Reddy, S., Ahmadieh, T. Y. E., Ban, V. S., Ozturk, A. K., Hwang, S. W., … Arlet, V. (2020). Occipital neuralgia: A neurosurgical perspective. Journal of Clinical Neuroscience, 71, 263–270. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2019.08.102 This paper investigates the different causes of occipital neuralgia and surgical interventions that have aided in relieving pain. The paper also provides case examples for each cause and corresponding treatment. The paper found that the C2 nerve is the most common site for compression causing the pain. Treatments such as C2 neurectomy and/or ganglionectomy offer the most pain relief for patients.
- Texakalidis, P., Tora, M. S., Nagarajan, P., Jr, O. P. K., & Boulis, N. (2019). High cervical spinal cord stimulation for occipital neuralgia: a case series and literature review. Journal of Pain Research, Volume 12, 2547–2553. doi: 10.2147/jpr.s214314P This study uses a literature review to support the author’s personal experiences treating occipital neuralgia with spinal cord sitmulation to show the efficacy of the treatment for this condition. The study found that high cervical spinal cord stimulation results in 40-50% success in patients with occipital neuralgia and thus, spinal cord stimulation may be considered as a treatment option.
Resources for More Information
Patient Pages are authored by neurosurgical professionals, with the goal of providing useful information to the public.
Julie G Pilitsis, MD, PhD, FAANS
Chair, Neuroscience & Experimental Therapeutics
Professor, Neurosurgery and Neuroscience & Experimental Therapeutics
Albany Medical College
Dr. Pilitsis specializes in neuromodulation with research interests in treatments for movement disorders and chronic pain.
Olga Khazen, BS
Neuroscience & Experimental Therapeutics
Albany Medical College
The AANS does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products or physicians referenced in these patient fact sheets. This information provided is an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific neurosurgical advice or assistance should consult his or her neurosurgeon, or locate one in your area through the AANS’ Find a Board-certified Neurosurgeon online tool.
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A burning sensation is a type of pain that’s distinct from dull, stabbing, or aching pain. A burning pain is often related to nerve problems. However, there are many other possible causes. Injuries, infections, and autoimmune disorders have the potential to trigger nerve pain, and in some cases cause nerve damage.
Many medical conditions that cause a burning sensation have no cure, but treatments are helpful in controlling the pain. You should seek treatment from your healthcare provider if you’re concerned about a burning sensation and suspect you have a health problem.
Conditions that cause burning sensation, with pictures
Many different conditions can cause a burning sensation. Here is a list of 20 possible causes.
Warning: Graphic images ahead.
- The viruses HSV-1 and HSV-2 cause oral and genital lesions
- These painful blisters occur alone or in clusters and weep clear yellow fluid and then crust over
- Signs also include mild flu-like symptoms such as fever, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, headache, body aches, and decreased appetite
- Blisters may reoccur in response to stress, mensturation, illness, or sun exposure
Read full article on herpes simplex.
- Moderate to severe lower back and leg pain is caused by sciatic nerve irritation
- Sharp or tingling pain flows from your lower back through your buttock area and into your lower limbs
- Numbness or weakness occurs in your legs or feet
- A “pins and needles” sensation may also occur in the feet
- Bladder or bowel incontinance is a sign of a medical emergency called cauda equina syndrome
Read full article on sciatica.
- Canker sores are also called aphthous stomatitis or aphthous ulcers
- They are small, painful, oval-shaped ulcers on the inside of the mouth that appear red, white, or yellow in color
- They are usually harmless and heal on their own in a couple of weeks
- Recurrent ulcers may be a sign of other diseases, such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, vitamin deficiency, or HIV
Read full article on canker sores.
- Chronic skin disease that goes through cycles of fading and relapse
- Relapses may be triggered by spicy foods, alcoholic beverages, sunlight, stress, and the intestinal bacteria Helicobacter pylori
- There are four subtypes of rosacea encompassing a wide variety of symptoms
- Common symptoms include facial flushing, raised, red bumps, facial redness, skin dryness, and skin sensitivity
Read full article on rosacea.
Peripheral vascular disease
- This blood circulation disorder causes the blood vessels outside of your heart and brain to narrow, block, or spasm
- Symptoms may be caused by arteriosclerosis (“hardening of the arteries”) or by blood vessel spasms
- It typically causes pain and fatigue in the legs that worsens with exercise and gets better with rest
Read full article on peripheral vascular disease.
- This disorder occurs when the nerves outside of your spinal cord (peripheral nerves) malfunction because they’re damaged or destroyed
- It’s caused by many different infections, diseases, injury, and some medications
- Symptoms include tingling in the hands or feet; sharp, stabbing pains; numbness; weakness; sexual dysfunction; bladder problems
Read full article on peripheral neuropathy.
Gastroespohageal reflux disease (GERD)
- GERD occurs when stomach acids and other stomach contents back up into the esophagus through the lower esophageal sphincter (LES)
- Common symptoms include heartburn, a sour taste in the mouth, regurgitation, dyspepsia, difficulty swallowing, sore throat, and dry cough
- Symptoms worsen when lying down, bending over, or after eating spicy, fatty, or large meals
Read full article on gastroespohageal reflux disease (GERD).
- Carpal tunnel is caused by pinching and squeezing of the median nerve as it passes through the wrist into the hand
- Symptoms include numbness, tingling, and pain in your thumb and the first three fingers of your hand
- It also leads to weakness in the muscles of the hand
- Symptoms usually worsen with activites that involve bending the wrist, such as typing, using tools, driving, or holding a phone
Read full article on carpal tunnel.
- Very painful rash that may burn, tingle, or itch, even if there are no blisters present
- Rash comprising clusters of fluid-filled blisters that break easily and weep fluid
- Rash emerges in a linear stripe pattern that appears most commonly on the torso, but may occur on other parts of the body, including the face
- Rash may be accompanied by low fever, chills, headache, or fatigue
Read full article on shingles.
- This type of anemia is caused by an inability to absorb the vitamin B-12 needed for your body to make enough healthy red blood cells
- Weakness, headaches, chest pain, weight loss are possible symptoms
- Rare neurological symptoms include wobbly gait, memory loss, spasticity, and peripheral neuropathy
Read full article on pernicious anemia.
- Cervical spondylosis is a common, age-related condition that affects the joints and discs in the neck
- Over time, the vertebral discs, joints, and bones of the cervical spine degenerate from regular wear and tear on cartilage and bones
- It may cause mild to severe chronic pain and stiffness in the neck
Read full article on cervical spondylosis.
- Mononeuritis is a condition caused by damage to the nerves that lie outside the spinal cord (peripheral nervous system)
- It has many possible causes, including autoimmune, systemic, and infectious diseases
- Symptoms include weakness or paralysis, numbness, tingling or “electric/shooting” pain in one or more areas of your body
Read full article on mononeuritis.
- Symptoms of neuralgia are caused by irritated or damaged nerves
- Neuralgia is a tingling, stabbing, burning, severe pain that may occur anywhere on the body
- It’s caused by many different diseases and infections, including shingles, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, nerve compression, medication side effects, trauma, and kidney disease
Read full article on neuralgia.
- Multiple sclerosis is a progressive autoimmune disease that affects the protective coverings of nerve cells
- It has unpredictable symptoms that can vary in intensity and duration
- Symptoms include vision problems, tingling and numbness, pain, spasms, weakness, and fatigue
- It can also cause bladder issues, dizziness, sexual dysfunction, and cognitive problems
Read full article on multiple sclerosis.
Central pain syndrome
- This syndrome is caused by damage to the central nervous system (CNS)
- Sensations of pain come directly from the brain or spinal cord and not from the peripheral nerves
- Symptoms can vary significantly in intensity, character, location, and timing
- Many internal and external stimuli may make the pain worse, including touch, emotional stress, movement, temperature changes, loud noises, bright lights, and sun exposure
Read full article on central pain syndrome.
- Discs sit between each vertebrae and provide shock absorption and cushioning to the spine
- Disc herniation occurs when the soft, gelatinous disc interior protrudes out of a disc’s rubbery, tough external ring
- It causes pain and numbness, most commonly on one side of the body and down one arm or leg
- Tingling, aching, or burning sensations in the affected area are other symptoms
- Unexplained muscle weakness may also occur
Read full article on herniated disk.
- This is a condition in which only a single nerve or nerve group is damaged
- Injuries, including accidents, falls, or repetitive motion stress, are the most common causes
- There are several forms of mononeuropathy, which vary in seriousness, rarity, and symptoms
- Common symptoms of mononeuropathy include loss of sensation, tingling or burning, lack of coordination, weakness, muscle wasting and pain
Read full article on mononeuropathy.
- Radiculopathy is caused by a pinched nerve in the spine
- Symptoms may affect different areas of the back, arms, or legs, depending on which nerve is compressed
- Symptoms include a sharp pain that may worsen with certain movements, shooting pain, numbness, weakness, tingling, and loss of reflexes
Read full article on radiculopathy.
This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.
- Frostbite is caused by extreme cold damage to a body part
- Common locations for frostbite include fingers, toes, nose, ears, cheeks, and chin
- Symptoms include numb, prickly skin that may be white or yellow and feel waxy or hard
- Severe frostbite symptoms include blackening of the skin, complete loss of sensation, and fluid- or blood-filled blisters
Read full article on frostbite.
Bites and stings
This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.
- Redness or swelling at the site of the bite or sting
- Itching and soreness at the site of the bite
- Pain in the affected area or in the muscles
- Heat around the bite or sting
Read full article on bites and stings.
Causes of a burning sensation
One of the most common reasons for burning pain is damage or dysfunction in the nervous system. This system is made up of the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS).
The CNS is the primary command center and includes the brain and spinal cord. The PNS consists of the nerves that branch out from the brain and spine, connecting the rest of the body to the CNS. There are several different types of nerve and spine conditions that may cause burning pain as a symptom.
- Central pain syndrome is a brain disorder that occurs when the nerves in the CNS are damaged. The condition can cause different types of painful sensations, including burning and aching.
- Cervical spondylosis is a result of aging. Wear and tear on the bones and cartilage in the neck cause compression on the nerves. This leads to chronic neck pain along with a burning sensation.
- Herniated disk occurs when a disk in the spine slips out of place. The disks protect the bones in the spinal cord by absorbing shock from daily activities, such as walking and twisting. When a disk moves out of place, it can compress a nerve and cause a burning pain. It may also cause numbness or muscle weakness.
- Mononeuropathy is a group of conditions that can cause damage to a single nerve. The damage often results in a tingling or burning sensation in the affected part of the body. There are several types of mononeuropathy, including carpal tunnel, ulnar nerve palsy, and sciatica.
- Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that affects the CNS. Researchers believe that MS causes the body’s immune system to attack myelin, which is an insulating coating around nerve cells. Once myelin erodes, communication between nerve cells in the CNS is disrupted. When this happens, some parts of the body don’t receive instructions from the brain. This results in a variety of symptoms, including burning pain and spasms.
- Neuralgia is burning and stabbing pain that occurs along a damaged or irritated nerve. The affected nerve may be anywhere in the body, but it’s most often in the face or neck.
- Peripheral neuropathy is a disorder that develops when a peripheral nerve is damaged, affecting its ability to function correctly. It may trigger a burning sensation. When at least two nerves or areas are affected, as can happen in leprosy, the condition is called mononeuritis multiplex.
- Radiculopathy, also referred to as a pinched nerve in the spine, is a natural part of aging. It occurs when surrounding bones, cartilage, or muscle deteriorates over time. The condition may also be triggered by injury or trauma to the spine. Radiculopathy causes burning pain in some cases, but not all.
Accidents, injuries, and traumas are other possible causes of burning sensations.
- Frostbite occurs when skin and the tissue under it freeze. Before numbness sets in, frostbite produces a burning sensation.
- Stings and bites from insects or animals that are venomous, such as snakes, produce a burning sensation at the affected area.
- Whiplash is an injury that occurs when someone’s head moves back and forth very suddenly with great force. The injury is most common after a car accident. It can cause a burning pain and stiffness in the neck.
Certain nutritional deficiencies can also include burning pain as a symptom.
There are other potential causes of a burning sensation in different parts of the body.
- Canker sores are mouth ulcers or sores caused by a virus. They are usually very painful.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is chronic acid reflux, which occurs when stomach contents flow back up into the esophagus. The condition can cause a burning sensation in the esophagus, chest, or stomach.
- Herpes simplex is a contagious viral infection that causes painful, tingling sores on various parts of the body, most commonly on the genitals or mouth.
- Peripheral vascular disease (PVDs) is a blood circulation disorder that affects veins and arteries outside of the heart and brain. It often causes burning pain that gets worse when walking.
- Rosacea is a skin condition that produces red, pus-filled bumps on various areas of the body. The affected areas can sometimes feel hot.
- Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, occurs in people who were previously infected with the chickenpox virus. It usually appears as a burning, painful rash on one side of the body.
Diagnosing the cause of a burning sensation
Schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider if you’re experiencing a persistent burning sensation. During your appointment, your healthcare provider will perform a physical examination and ask you about your pain. Be prepared to answer questions that may include:
- the location of the pain
- the severity of the pain
- when the pain began
- how often you experience the pain
- any other symptoms you may be experiencing
Your healthcare provider will also order certain tests to try to identify the underlying cause of your burning pain. These diagnostic tests may include:
- blood or urine tests to check for nutritional deficiencies and other conditions
- imaging tests, such as X-rays and CT scans, to examine bones and muscles in the spine
- electromyography (EMG) to assess the health of nerves and muscles
- nerve conduction velocity test to determine how quickly electrical signals move through a particular peripheral nerve
- nerve biopsy to check for nerve damage in a particular part of the body
- skin biopsy to examine a small sample of the affected skin under a microscope for the presence of abnormal cells
Treatment for a burning sensation
Treatment for a burning sensation depends on the underlying cause. If your healthcare provider finds an underlying health condition, they will attempt to treat that particular condition first. Your course of treatment will vary depending on the problem. Treatment may include:
- physical therapy
- dietary changes
- lifestyle modifications
The burning pain can be controlled with anti-inflammatory medications, prescription painkillers, or over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers. You can also ask your healthcare provider about certain home remedies that may help treat your condition.
Shop for OTC pain relievers online.
What you can do now
Many conditions that cause a burning sensation have no cure, but treatments can make a big difference in reducing the pain and any other symptoms. You should see your healthcare provider so you can receive a diagnosis and treatment for the problem that may be causing your burning sensation. Make sure you stick with your treatment plan and attend any necessary follow-up appointments.
Burning sensation skull
What causes tingling in the head?
When a person experiences a tingling sensation, they usually are experiencing paresthesia. Paresthesia occurs when a nerve is damaged or under pressure for a long time.
For example, a person may wake up with a tingling, limp arm because they slept on it all night. In most cases, the tingling goes away quickly and there are no lasting effects.
A person may also experience tingling in their head, or head paresthesia. Although this sensation may be concerning, many potential causes of a head paresthesia do not cause lasting damage.
Keep reading for more information on the possible causes of tingling in the head, as well as when to see a doctor.
1. Sinus and respiratory infections
Sinus infections, colds, flus, and other infections cause a person’s sinuses to become irritated and inflamed.
As the sinuses enlarge, they can put pressure on surrounding nerves. When this occurs, it can trigger head paresthesia.
Over-the-counter cold medications, warm compresses, or steam can help reduce inflammation and relieve the pressure on the nerves. Once the pressure is released, the tingling sensation will likely resolve.
2. Anxiety or stress
When a person feels anxious or is under a lot of stress, they may feel a tingling sensation in their head.
Stress triggers the release of norepinephrine and other hormones. These are responsible for directing blood flow to the areas of the body that need it most.
As a result, extra blood is sent to the head, which may cause a person to feel a sensation of tingling.
3. Headaches and migraine
Other common causes of tingling include certain types of headache and migraine.
Cluster, eyestrain, and tension headaches may all trigger a tingling sensation in the head due to changing pressure and blood flow.
A migraine aura may occur before a migraine episode. A tingling sensation is a common part of migraine auras.
Diabetes occurs when the body can cannot produce insulin or cannot use it properly. Insulin is responsible for processing sugar in the blood. When there is not enough insulin, a person’s blood sugar levels can become too high and cause a variety of symptoms.
Without treatment, diabetes can lead to nerve damage. People with diabetes tend to experience nerve damage in the outer extremities, such as the feet.
However, it is possible for people to experience nerve damage in the face and head, which may be a source of tingling.
5. Substance misuse and medications
A person who uses recreational drugs or drinks excessively may experience a tingling sensation in the head.
In addition, some prescription medications — such as anticonvulsants and chemotherapy medications — may also cause a tingling sensation.
6. Injuries to the head
If a person injures the back of their head, they may damage the nerves inside the brain. As a result, they may feel a tingling sensation in the head or face.
They may also experience facial paralysis, wherein the muscles in the face do not work.
Other head injuries may damage the nerves in the outer part of the head. If this occurs, a person may also feel a temporary sensation of tingling or numbness in the affected areas.
8. Simple partial seizures
Simple partial seizures can affect people with epilepsy. When a person has a simple partial seizure, they do not lose consciousness, as the seizure occurs in only one part of the brain.
Instead, someone having a simple partial seizure may experience numbness or tingling that lasts for a few minutes. The tingling may be in the head or face.
9. Autoimmune conditions
Autoimmune conditions attack parts of a person’s body. In some cases, autoimmune conditions attack the nerves and surrounding tissues. If this occurs, a person may experience tingling in the head.
Some autoimmune conditions that may cause tingling in the head include:
10. Occipital neuralgia
Two occipital nerves run on both sides of the head. They from the neck to the top of the head, stopping at about the forehead.
These nerves are responsible for the feelings and sensations on the top and back of the head. If something irritates either of them, it can cause shooting pain or a tingling sensation in the head.
Occipital neuralgia is a condition that can and cause tingling.
11. Other infections
Though not common, some infections can cause nerve damage in the head, which can lead to a tingling sensation.
Some bacterial or viral infections that can cause nerve damage include:
A stroke occurs when a person loses the blood supply to their brain for a short time. The loss of blood causes a loss of oxygen, which can damage the brain.
Symptoms of a stroke include:
- loss of function
- vision problems
- tingling or numbness in different areas of the body, including the head
- drooping on one side of the face
13. Trigeminal neuralgia
The trigeminal nerves run on both sides of the face and give sensation to the forehead, cheeks, teeth, and jaw.
Sometimes, the trigeminal nerve can become irritated or compressed, which can cause numbness or tingling in the face.
14. Other causes
Less commonly, some other conditions may cause a person to feel tingling in the head. Some of these are benign, while others are potentially dangerous.
These additional causes include:
When to see a doctor
A person may not need to see a doctor if they experience tingling in the head on occasion. If the tingling comes and goes quickly, is associated with a cold or other acute infection, or comes along with a headache, it will typically go away without treatment.
However, if the tingling persists or causes interruptions to a person’s life, they should speak to their doctor as soon as possible. Anyone experiencing the symptoms of a stroke or seizure should seek emergency medical attention.
Whenever a person is concerned about their symptoms, it is always best to speak to a doctor for a full diagnosis.
In most cases, tingling in the head is not a major cause for concern.
However, since there are some more serious underlying conditions that may be responsible, anyone experiencing persistent or chronic tingling in the head should speak to a doctor.
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