Tingling in the Head - 10 Possible Causes

Tingling in the head is often of great concern. Fortunately, most causes are medically treatable.
Tingling in the Head - 10 Possible Causes
Leidy Mora Molina

Reviewed and approved by the nurse Leidy Mora Molina.

Written by Edith Sánchez

Last update: 20 February, 2023

Tingling in the head is a very common symptom, but is annoying nonetheless. In most cases, it’s nothing to worry about. However, neither is it something to ignore if it occurs frequently.

Most commonly, tingling in the head occurs only very sporadically and dissipates within a few hours. It’s almost always related to a migraine or is a sign of stress.

There are diseases, such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis, which can have tingling in the head as a symptom. Therefore, it isn’t something that should be ignored.

Characteristics of tingling in the head

Tingling in the head is felt as small twinges or a tingling in the scalp, without there being an apparent reason for this to occur. Many times it also involves other areas of the face, such as the mouth, tongue and ears.

This tingling isn’t usually painful, but sometimes causes burning or itching. It isn’t uncommon for it to be accompanied by a feeling of numbness.

It most commonly appears suddenly, lasts for a short time, and then disappears suddenly. However, it’s also possible for it to come on like a wave, starting with a mild sensation and then becoming very intense and disappearing after a while.

Possible causes of tingling in the head

Many factors can trigger this condition. In general, it shouldn’t be a cause for concern unless it recurs very often or is very intense.

1. Stress and anxiety

Anxiety and stress are the most common causes of tingling in the head. These are responses of the body and mind to stimuli that are threatening.

In these cases, the symptom is often accompanied by a feeling of tightness in the chest, dizziness, a lump in the throat, and tingling in other parts of the body. There’s also a psychological feeling of fear and worry.

A woman with anxiety.
Stress states manifest themselves in varied physical forms, such as headaches, palpitations and tingling.

2. Problems in the cervical vertebrae

The cervical area can contract and tighten. Bad posture causes this effect and one of the consequences is tingling in the head.

In these cases, there is also often pain or prickling in the neck area, headache, dizziness and vertigo. It is possible for the tingling to spread to the shoulders.

3. Tingling in the head due to migraine

Migraine is a very common disease and another condition that often includes tingling in the head. It usually appears before a severe headache and is accompanied by cranial and facial numbness. Photophobia and visual disturbances are also common.

4. Trauma

Injuries to the skull, especially if they’re mild, often cause tingling in the head. It’s also possible to have ringing in the ears, vision problems, dizziness, lack of balance, and even alteration in taste. If the injury is very severe, there will be more serious symptoms as well.

5. Lyme disease

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, which enters the body through the bite of a tick. It can only transmit the disease if it remains attached to the body for more than 24 hours.

It causes tingling in the head, hands, and feet. There can also be chills, fever, malaise, and stiffness in the neck.

6. Herpes

Most commonly the tingling is generated by shingles. This form is a reactivation of the chickenpox virus. The tingling can develop into burning and pain.

You might also be interested in: Shingles Symptoms and Diagnosis Facts to Know

7. Dental problems

Some dental problems, such as pulpitis, periodontitis, and tooth abscesses, often cause tingling in the head. There will also be numbness in the face and pain. Something similar occurs with temporomandibular joint dysfunction.

8. Sinusitis

Inflammation of the nasal mucosa and sinuses, or sinusitis, often causes tingling in the head. This is a result of irritation of some nerves in the face. You can also get headaches, a stuffy nose and rhinitis.

9. Diabetes

Diabetes most often causes a tingling sensation in the extremities. However, because it can also cause nerve damage in the face and head, tingling in these areas is also common.

10. Multiple sclerosis

A tingling sensation in the head is one of the typical symptoms of multiple sclerosis. This is an autoimmune disease that affects the nervous system. In addition to tingling, there’s often muscle weakness, incoordination of movements, dizziness, and memory loss.

A person with multiple sclerosis.
Patients with multiple sclerosis require a multidisciplinary approach. Tingling is only part of the picture.

What to do about tingling in the head?

The measures to be taken depend on the factors causing the tingling in the head. If the symptom appears with certain frequency, it’s advisable to reduce the consumption of sugars and caffeine. In any case, recurrence is something that should be consulted with the physician.

If the tingling in the head is accompanied by other symptoms, such as partial or total paralysis in the face and tingling in other parts of the body, it’s recommended to report it to a specialist as soon as possible.

If the sensation remains for more than 3 days, you should also see a doctor. In case of associated problems in the teeth, it’s advisable to go to the dentist.

Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and proper posture when sitting, standing, and sleeping are measures that prevent this annoying tingling.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.