What Are the Causes of Eyebrow Pain?

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There are many different reasons for eyebrow pain. Typically, eyebrow pain is localized around or underneath the eyebrow. Depending on the cause, the pain may be temporary, such as with headaches, or can persist, indicating a more serious condition.

Read on to learn more about what causes eyebrow pain, how to treat it, and when to see a healthcare provider.

Woman touching temples with headache / eyebrow pain

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Causes

There are several causes associated with eyebrow pain.

Tension Headache

Tension headaches, also referred to as tension-type headaches, present as a mild to moderate pain that wraps around the head. Many people who experience these types of headaches say that it feels as though there is a tight band squeezing their heads.

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache and are usually caused by stress or lack of sleep, which can lead to pain in the eyebrow.

Migraine

A migraine is another type of headache that can cause eyebrow pain. It is characterized as throbbing or pulsing pain, typically occurring on only one side of the head. It is a more severe type of pain.

In some cases, migraines can be accompanied by other symptoms such as a sensitivity to light or sound, nausea, and vomiting. You may also experience a migraine aura and may not be able to go to work or participate in other activities as a result.

Cluster Headache

Cluster headaches are often described as the most painful type of headache. They are cyclical, which means that they occur in patterns and can be clustered into multiple attacks that happen in a row.

The pain associated with cluster headaches is often intense enough to wake a person from sleep. It is typically localized to one side of the head, specifically in or around the eye.

What to Do About Headache-Driven Eyebrow Pain

If you are aware of your headache condition and are accustomed to the pain, the best thing you can do is take your medication as directed by your healthcare provider, whether it be over-the-counter or prescription. If the headaches and eyebrow pain are new, you should discuss them with your healthcare provider.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma isn’t just one eye condition, but rather a group of them that can lead to optic nerve damage. It develops because of excess fluid build-up in the front of the eye, creating pressure.

The pain felt from glaucoma is intense and localized around the eyebrow and eye. If caught early, you can prevent vision loss with treatment.

Sinusitis

Sinusitis, also referred to as a sinus infection, occurs when the lining of the sinuses near the nose become infected.

Typically, sinus infections develop when there is a blockage in the opening of the nasal passages because of a cold, allergies, tooth infections, or nose injury.

Sinusitis can cause facial pain or swelling in the eyes, which affects the eyebrows.

Shingles

Shingles present as a painful rash that occurs in people who were once infected with the virus that causes chickenpox. The chickenpox virus stays in the body for the rest of a person's life, and when it reactivates it causes a new infection, shingles. The rash itself can be blistered and last for up to four weeks.

Prior to the rash developing, people may feel sensations of itching, tingling, or pain in the area. Shingles typically appears on only one side of the body at a time and can affect the face, including the eyebrows.

When to Contact Your Healthcare Provider

Since there are many causes of eyebrow pain, it can be difficult to determine what is causing yours. If you experience pain in the eyebrows often and have noticed other symptoms, you should contact your physician as soon as possible. They will determine a cause and proper treatment plan.

Treatment

Treating eyebrow pain will depend on what is causing it.

In many of the aforementioned cases, taking a pain reliever, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, may help to lessen or eliminate the pain. This is especially true if the eyebrow pain is being caused by a tension, cluster, or migraine headache.

Prescription medications may be prescribed for people with these types of headaches if they are chronic and do not respond to over-the-counter methods.

For glaucoma, treatment involves relieving pressure in the eye area. This can be done through the use of certain topical drugs, glaucoma surgery, or laser therapy, which involves the use of lasers to dampen the pressure.

Sinusitis is sometimes left untreated, as the infection clears on its own in many cases. To relieve the pain in the meantime, you can:

  • Use a warm compress over the nose and forehead to relieve pressure
  • Use a decongestant or nasal spray to help clear out any blockage
  • Breathe in steam to help clear out the sinuses
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers to help relieve face pain

In severe cases, sinus infections need to be treated with antibiotics.

When eyebrow pain is occurring because of shingles, treatments involve antiviral drugs such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir.

Oral pain relievers such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen can also be used to help ease the pain from shingles. 

Home Remedies for Eyebrow Pain

If you don’t want to take over-the-counter medication or are looking for natural remedies for your eyebrow pain, you can try:

  • Rest and relaxation
  • Applying a cold compress to the area
  • Meditation
  • Laying down in a dark and quiet room
  • Stress-reduction techniques 
  • Avoiding allergens

When to See a Provider

Not all eyebrow pain warrants a trip to your healthcare provider. However, if you experience any of the following, you should see your provider:

  • A headache that feels like the worst one you've ever had
  • Vision problems associated with the eyebrow pain
  • Eyebrow pain that disrupts your daily life or becomes chronic

Summary

Eyebrow pain can be caused by a variety of conditions, most of which aren’t serious. Various types of headaches, sinus infections, and the viral infection shingles can all lead to eyebrow pain. In some cases, eyebrow pain can indicate a serious eye condition known as glaucoma, so it’s important to see your healthcare provider if you experience vision changes along with your eyebrow pain.

Treatment for eyebrow pain varies. However, for mild to moderate eyebrow pain resulting from non-serious health conditions, over-the-counter pain relievers and at-home remedies can help reduce the pain.

A Word From Verywell

Pain in the face, particularly on or around the eyebrow, can feel debilitating because of its location. Unfortunately, since there are so many possible causes, it can be difficult to tell if you need medical treatment or if you can wait it out with at-home remedies. If your eyebrow pain comes on suddenly, it's best to speak to your healthcare provider, who can help determine the cause and recommend treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you massage a sore eyebrow?

    Massaging your eyebrows to relieve tension can aid in easing any eyebrow pain you’re experiencing. A technique known as eyebrow pinching often works to accomplish this tension release. To perform eyebrow pinching, you can gently pinch and firmly kneed the areas below and above your eyebrows.

  • What is the home remedy for eyebrow pain?

    There are several at-home remedies available to try to relieve eyebrow pain. The focus of at-home remedies is to relieve pressure, minimize congestion, or relieve stress and tension that could be causing it. To do this, you can meditate, lay down in a dark and quiet room, breathe in steam from a hot bowl or shower, or use a cool compress against the area.

9 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Angelica Bottaro
Angelica Bottaro is a professional freelance writer with over 5 years of experience. She has been educated in both psychology and journalism, and her dual education has given her the research and writing skills needed to deliver sound and engaging content in the health space.