Ramsay Hunt Syndrome


  • Recently, Pop sensation Justin Bieber has developed a rare condition called the Ramsay Hunt Syndrome.

What is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?

  • Ramsay Hunt Syndrome is neurological disease in which a virus – Varicella Zoster – causes inflammation of the nerves involved in facial movements.

    Ramsay Hunt syndrome
    Photo Credit: Sky News
  • Also known as herpes zoster oticus..
  • When the nerves get inflamed, they lose their ability to function, leading to temporary facial palsy or paralysis.
  • What it means is that facial muscles in the infected person cannot receive necessary signals to function properly.
  • There are 12 cranial nerves in the body.
  • Ramsay Hunt Syndrome is the viral infection impacting the 7th cranial nerve that is involved in facial movements.
  • The inflammation caused by the Varicella Zoster Virus makes the nerve ineffective.

What are the symptoms of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?

  • The symptoms include painful, red rash and blisters in and around the ear, and facial paralysis on the same side.
  • Patients also report hearing loss in the ear that has been impacted apart from
  • Tinnitus or ringing sounds. Inability to close the eye causes dryness.
  • Rash on the eardrum, the ear canal and the earlobe.
  • Rashes can also appear inside the mouth, on the tongue. There is hearing loss, vertigo or spinning sensation.
  • It causes weakness of one side of the face and causes difficulty in closing one eye and eating as food falls off from the affected side. There is drooping of the face.

What is the virus that causes Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?

  • The Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV) is the same virus that causes chickenpox and shingles.
  • This virus belongs to the herpesvirus group and can stay in the body as a latent infection. The virus can stay dormant in a person’s body and can reawaken to attack the nerves.
  • VZV can get reactivated due to weakening of the immune system. Stress is also considered a trigger.
  • T-cell dysfunction caused by coronavirus infection can reactivate VZV.

How is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome treated?

  • It is treated using anti-viral drugs, steroids and physiotherapy. Steroids and anti-viral drugs are the cornerstone of the treatment.
  • Facial exercises are very important. Patients need to protect their eyes. When one eye doesn’t close, there is a chance of developing corneal aberration.

Is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome contagious?

  • The disease is not contagious but can lead to chickenpox in those not vaccinated for the disease.

Do patients recover fully from Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?

  • The disease is reversible. Patients get cured within 15 days to three months of starting the treatment.



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