Bell's palsy is a type of nerve damage that can temporarily paralyze the muscles in the face. People who have Bell's palsy may be unable to generate facial expression--their faces may look droopy on one side or asymmetrical. Steroid medications are sometimes used to reduce the inflammation that may occur. Massage and facial exercises are an effective treatment to help prevent the facial muscles from shrinking, as explained by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).
Ask your primary care physician for a referral to a massage therapist or physical therapist who has experience treating Bell's palsy. A trained professional can teach you the correct way to perform massage and facial exercises. Once you know the correct way to perform the exercises, self-care will be easier.
Massage the mouth and lower facial muscles by manually creating a smile with your lips. Gently grasp the corner of your lips with your thumb and index finger. Push your lips toward the center of your face to create a puckering of your lips. After the puckering position, ease your lips upward into a smile formation. Repeat this motion several times in a row to gain the benefits of the massage.
Prevent permanent muscle atrophy in your forehead by massaging the upper part of your face. Place your fingers above your eyebrow and firmly massage upward to your hairline, in one fluid motion, with the tips of your fingers. Reverse the motion and bring your fingers back down to your eyebrow. Massage of this kind can be performed two to three times every day.
Perform a circular massage of your cheeks with your fingertips. Firm strokes help work the muscles that are paralyzed until the nerve damage runs its course. Bell's palsy symptoms usually peak within a few days of the nerve damage and gradually improve over the course of several weeks.
Apply moist heat to your face after massaging. Wet a washcloth with warm water and squeeze out the excess water to create a hot pack. The heat can help relieve any pain you may be feeling after performing facial exercises.
Erica Roth has been a writer since 2007. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a college reference librarian for eight years. Roth earned a Bachelor of Arts in French literature from Brandeis University and Master of Library Science from Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Her articles appear on various websites.