Facial Tics

Facial tics are involuntary and uncontrollable spasms such as scrunching of one’s nose or blinking of the eyes, which are not caused serious problems in most cases, for example, transient tic disorder, and may be voluntarily suppressed temporarily. Daily factors like stress can also contribute to these. Facial tics are more common among children than in adults and children are often able to outgrow these within a few months. However, chronic tics or some nervous disorders need medical cares.

Causes of Facial Tics

Facial tics consist of repeated and uncontrolled spasmodic muscle movements. These may be seen as eye blinking, squinting, nose wrinkling, grimacing, mouth twitching, grunting, or repeated throat clearing.

1. Transient Tic Disorder

Tics that last for a short time are common in children. They occur nearly every day for less than a year and are believed to be a mild form of Tourette’s syndrome. An affected person usually experiences an irresistible urge to make a movement such as eye blinking, eyebrow raising, nostril flaring, mouth opening, or sticking out their tongue. These tics usually do not require treatment.

2. Chronic Tic Disorder

This condition affects 1-2% of the population, and often manifests as eye blinking and grimacing. Tics may occur during sleep. Affected individuals experience tics for more than a year and have no tic-free intervals longer than 3 months. Young children between ages six and eight usually do not require treatment because symptoms may subside on their own. Older individuals may need treatment if symptoms are severe or if they affect the patient’s daily life.

3. Tourette’s Disorder

Also known as Tourette’s syndrome, the disorder usually begins in childhood and tends to progress in intensity, affecting different areas of the body, such as the arms and legs. Symptoms may decline in adulthood. Tics may appear purposeful and may include lip smacking, kissing, pinching, inappropriate gestures and touching. Diagnosis is made with the appearance of vocal tics. The disorder is usually managed with behavioral treatments but some may require medication.

4. Risk Factors

There are some contributing factors that lead to facial tic disorders. They tend to affect the severity and frequency of tics. Treatment of these problems may help reduce facial tics:

  • heat
  • excitement
  • stress
  • fatigue
  • ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder)
  • stimulant medications
  • OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder)

Natural Cures for Facial Tics

1. Massage and Relaxation

Sudden eye twitches are typically due to stress or anxiety. Relax, lean your head to the back, then gently massage the muscle that are twitching to relax the muscles. Massage for about 5 minutes, and then take a soothing bath. You can also drink a cup of peppermint, chamomile, or ginger tea to relax the facial muscles and the whole body, as well as boost your circulation and mood.

2. Apply Warmth

A warm cloth applied on the face relaxes facial muscles as well as the rest of the body, making tense muscles stop their spasms.

3. Eat a Banana

Eating a banana or taking a magnesium supplement daily may relieve persistent facial twitches. Muscle twitching is often caused by a deficiency in electrolytes or minerals, so taking supplements can reduce facial twitching.

4. Reduce Caffeine Intake

Caffeine increases stress and anxiety levels. Instead, try exercising at least 30 minutes a day to help release excess energy, relax, and get a great night's sleep. Moderate exercise and less caffeine helps the body get better rest and fewer facial twitching.

If your facial twitch does not go away or interferes with your daily life, consult a doctor to find out if you have any medical condition, such as a neurological disease, which may need proper treatment.

Medical Treatments for Facial Tics

Facial tic disorders do not usually require treatment. Affected children should not be scolded and parents must avoid drawing attention to their tics. Parents should help the child understand what tics are, and help them explain this to their friends. Medications may be prescribed if tics interfere with school, social interactions, or job performance.

Medical treatment options include:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Stress reduction programs
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Medications for ADHD or OCD
  • Dopamine blocker medications
  • Botox (botulinum toxin) injections to weaken facial muscles
  • Deep brain stimulation for Tourette’s syndrome
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