Forehead pain is a common symptom of infection, inflammation, vascular conditions, or physical trauma. Forehead pain can result from increased fluid (edema) in the soft tissues surrounding the forehead, sinuses or brain. It may occur in conditions affecting the forehead area itself or in association with more generalized conditions such as colds, flu, or low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
Inflammation and infection are common causes of forehead pain. Infection of the sinuses (sinusitis) can lead to forehead pain. Meningitis (inflammation of the sac that surrounds the brain and spinal cord) also results in forehead pain. Trauma to the head may cause forehead pain and can indicate a serious or life-threatening condition. These traumas include concussion, intracranial bleeding, and subdural hematoma.
Common causes of forehead pain include migraines, vascular headaches in which pain may occur on one side or the entire forehead. Forehead pain is also commonly caused by tension headaches due to stress or muscle tightness in the neck, jaw or scalp. Other causes of forehead pain include eye strain and withdrawal from substances such as caffeine or alcohol.
Sudden forehead pain accompanied by numbness or weakness of the legs, especially when it occurs on only one side of the body, can be a sign of stroke, meningitis, intracranial hemorrhage, or subdural hematoma. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, experience these symptoms.
What other symptoms might occur with forehead pain?
Forehead pain may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the forehead may also involve other body systems.
Infectious symptoms that may occur with forehead pain
Forehead pain may accompany other symptoms related to infection such as:
Fever and chills
Nasal discharge that is yellow or green
Nausea with or without vomiting
Neck pain or stiff neck
Pressure around the eyes
Other symptoms that may occur with forehead pain
Forehead pain may accompany symptoms related to other body systems including:
Headache accompanied by feeling weak and shaky
Headache after reading, watching television, or using the computer
Pain around the temples
Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition
Sudden forehead pain can be a sign of a serious condition. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you experience symptoms that may signal a serious or life-threatening condition such as:
Change in your level of consciousness or alertness, such as passing out or unresponsiveness
Change in your mental status or sudden behavior change, such as confusion, delirium, lethargy, hallucinations and delusions
Garbled or slurred speech or inability to speak
Numbness or weakness of your arm or fingers, especially if it occurs on only one side of the body
Paralysis or inability to move a body part
Recent injury to the head
Sudden change in vision, loss of vision, or eye pain
What causes forehead pain?
Forehead pain results from multiple processes that affect the forehead. Headaches are a common cause of forehead pain. Such headaches may result from vascular abnormalities, muscle tension, or inflammation. Forehead pain is commonly caused by sinus infection, viral infections such as cold or flu, or even bacterial meningitis. Many other conditions may lead to forehead pain, including drug withdrawal, trauma or hormonal changes.
Headache causes of forehead pain
Headaches that may cause forehead pain include:
Infectious causes of forehead pain
Forehead pain may be caused by infections such as:
Flu or cold
Periorbital cellulitis (an infection of the eyelids or other soft tissue around the eyes)
Other causes of forehead pain
Forehead pain may also have other causes including:
Anxiety or stress
Consumption of nitrates, aspartame, or monosodium glutamate (MSG)
Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
Loss of vision or changes in vision
Withdrawal from caffeine, alcohol, or drugs such as sedatives
Serious or life-threatening causes of forehead pain
In some cases, forehead pain may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. These include:
Encephalitis (inflammation and swelling of the brain due to a viral infection or other causes)
Intracranial hemorrhage (bleeding inside the brain)
Meningitis (infection or inflammation of the sac around the brain and spinal cord)
Severe head trauma
Questions for diagnosing the cause of forehead pain
To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your forehead pain including:
How long have you had forehead pain?
Where (specifically) do you feel the forehead pain?
Do you have tingling, weakness or numbness in your arms or legs?
Do you get a headache after reading or watching television?
Have you recently injured your head or neck?
Do you have any other symptoms?
What medications are you taking?
What are the potential complications of forehead pain?
Because forehead pain can be due to serious diseases, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:
Brain damage or inflammation
Spread of cancer
Spread of infection