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Facial nerve palsy

  • Alternative Names

    Neuropathy - facial; Cranial mononeuropathy VII; Seventh cranial nerve palsy


    Finding and treating the cause (if it can be found) may relieve symptoms in some cases. The disorder may disappear on its own depending on the severity of nerve damage.

    Powerful anti-inflammatory drugs (steroids) may be used if the condition is caught early enough. The drugs may be used in combination with an antiviral drug called acyclovir.

    Your doctor may recommend lubricating eye drops or eye ointments to protect the eye if it doesn't close completely. You may need to wear a patch over the eye while you sleep.

    Your health care provider may recommend surgery to remove any tumors that are pressing on the facial nerve.

    Support Groups

    Expectations (prognosis)

    The outlook varies. Some patients recover completely, while others permanently lose movement of the face.

    • Changes to the appearance of the face (disfigurement) from loss of movement
    • Changes to taste
    • Damage to the eye (corneal ulcers and infections)
    • Nerves that grow back to the wrong structures (aberrant regeneration) -- for example, smiling causes the eye to close
    • Spasm of face muscles or eyelids

    Calling your health care provider

    Call your health care provider if your face droops or you have other symptoms of facial nerve palsy.