Face Paralysis and Bell's Palsy: Differences, Characterizations and Symptoms

You may experience paralysis symptoms due to Bell’s Palsy but Facial paralysis is a different problem. Get more details inside.

Chanchal Sengar
Written by: Chanchal SengarPublished at: Jun 25, 2022Updated at: Jun 25, 2022
Face Paralysis and Bell's Palsy: Differences, Characterizations and Symptoms

Recently when Justin Beiber revealed his facial paralysis condition, many were caught unaware. This is because there is a lack of knowledge and awareness about facial paralysis and similar conditions. Besides, those who know are confused between Face paralysis and Bell’s Palsy, as they  have similar symptoms. While facial paralysis is when you are unable to function a part of your face due to severe nerve damage, Bell’s Palsy, on the other hand, causes sudden weakness of facial muscles. Bell’s Palsy is a temporary condition that improves over time, facial paralysis could be permanent depending upon the nerve damage. To understand the difference between these two conditions, we reached out to Dr. Kavita Barhate, Neurologist, SRV Hospital Dombivali, Mumbai. Read ahead to know more information.

Facial Paralysis VS Bell’s Palsy

Facial paralysis is when a person is unable to move either one or both sides of the face. This condition arises due to nerve damage which is caused due to congenital conditions, birth defects, stroke, trauma, or Bell’s Palsy. A person may suffer difficulty in eating, swallowing, speaking, eye blinking, or making facial expressions from the paralyzed side. This could even lead to facial asymmetry.

Also Read: Can Paralysis Be Treated? Expert Answers

Bell’s Palsy is characterized by sudden weakness in facial muscles on either one or both the sides. Bell’s Palsy is a condition that can cause facial paralysis. Bell’s Palsy symptoms can be temporary and improve over time. However, the problems faced by a person with Bell’s Palsy are similar to that of facial paralysis. The affected person won’t be able to smile wide, blink eye or make facial expressions. The affected part of their face looks droopy.

Difference Between Face Paralysis and Bell's Palsy

NOTE: Bell’s Palsy is caused due to nerve inflammation whereas facial paralysis is caused after nerve damage.


Facial paralysis is caused due to nerve damage majorly triggered by tumor and stroke. Bell’s Palsy doesn’t have a definite cause. It is caused due to inflammation in the nerves which can be caused due to several reasons. Most commonly, it is caused due to Herpes simplex virus that causes cold sores.

Also Read: What Is Bell's Palsy? Know The Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis And Treatment

Most importantly, facial paralysis can be permanent and require surgical treatment to regain facial functions whereas Bell's Palsy is temporary with no permanent damage and can be treated without any surgery.

Warning Signs and Symptoms

Facial paralysis condition starts with mild weakness that later develops into headache, sensitivity towards sound on the affected side, facial droop, drooling and total paralysis.

Difference Between Face Paralysis and Bell's Palsy

People with Bell’s Palsy condition will experience sudden weakness in your facial muscles. This weakness might persist for hours, days or maybe weeks. Swollen facial nerves is another warning sign that you may have Bell’s Palsy. This obstructs nerves to send signals to the brain which eventually leads to paralysis. Doctor highlights that symptoms of Bell’s Palsy occur hours after it actually happens. Which means that you come to know about the condition later and so, immediate medical attention is the key to recovery.


If you experience facial muscle weakness, you must immediately report to a doctor. A MRI and CT Scan can help in identifying if you have either of the conditions. For people experiencing severe symptoms, electromyography or electroneurography (ENoG) test is suggested to find the root cause.

Timely diagnosis is the only way to prevent severe consequences.