Ramsey Hunt Syndrome develops as a result of the herpes zoster oticus (chicken pox or shingles) virus. These viruses lie dormant in your nerves and sometimes reappear later in life. If these viruses reappear in the region of the facial nerve, that nerve can be affected and cause facial muscle weakness and deafness. This manifestation of the virus is referred to as Ramsey Hunt Syndrome.

The two typical signs of the condition are: a painful, red rash with fluid-filled blisters in and around one ear; facial weakness or paralysis on the same side as the rash. Other symptoms may include ear pain, some loss of hearing, tinnitus, vertigo, trouble closing one eye, a change in or loss of sensation of taste. The rash and facial weakness are often experienced together.

Patients should call our office immediately if either a rash or facial weakness develops.

Ramsey Hunt Syndrome has a good prognosis if treated early, within the first seven days form the start of signs and symptoms. If not treated early, permanent facial weakness or deafness may result.

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