BACK TOTOP Browse A-ZSearchBrowse A-ZABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ0-9 E-mail FormEmail ResultsName:Email address:Recipients Name:Recipients address:Message: Print-FriendlyBookmarksbookmarks-menuRamsay Hunt syndromeHunt syndrome; Herpes zoster oticus; Geniculate ganglion zoster; Geniculate herpes; Herpetic geniculate ganglionitisRamsay Hunt syndrome is a painful rash around the ear, on the face, or on the mouth. It occurs when the varicella-zoster virus infects a nerve in the head.Varicella-zosterShingles (herpes zoster) is a painful, blistering skin rash. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, a member of the herpes family of viruses. ...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Causes The varicella-zoster virus that causes Ramsay Hunt syndrome is the same virus that causes chickenpox and shingles.ChickenpoxChickenpox is a viral infection in which a person develops very itchy blisters all over the body. It was more common in the past. The illness is ra...Read Article Now Book Mark Article ShinglesShingles (herpes zoster) is a painful, blistering skin rash. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, a member of the herpes family of viruses. ...Read Article Now Book Mark Article In people with this syndrome, the virus is believed to infect the facial nerve near the inner ear. This leads to irritation and swelling of the nerve.The condition mainly affects adults. In rare cases, it is seen in children. Symptoms Symptoms may include:Severe pain in the ear Painful rash on the eardrum, ear canal, earlobe, tongue, and roof of the mouth on the side with the affected nerve Hearing loss on one side Sensation of things spinning (vertigo) VertigoDizziness is a term that is often used to describe 2 different symptoms: lightheadedness and vertigo. Lightheadedness is a feeling that you might fai...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Weakness on one side of the face that causes difficulty closing one eye, eating (food falls out of the weak corner of the mouth), making expressions, and making fine movements of the face, as well as facial droop and paralysis on one side of the face Exams and Tests A health care provider will usually diagnose Ramsay Hunt Syndrome by looking for signs of weakness in the face and a blister-like rash.Tests may include:Blood tests for varicella-zoster virus Electromyography (EMG) ElectromyographyElectromyography (EMG) is a test that checks the health of the muscles and the nerves that control the muscles.Read Article Now Book Mark Article Lumbar puncture (in rare cases) Lumbar punctureCerebrospinal fluid (CSF) collection is a test to look at the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. CSF acts as a cushion, protecting the b...Read Article Now Book Mark Article MRI of the head MRI of the headA head MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is an imaging test that uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create pictures of the brain and surrounding...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Nerve conduction (to determine the amount of damage to the facial nerve) Nerve conductionNerve conduction velocity (NCV) is a test to see how fast electrical signals move through a nerve. This test is done along with electromyography (EM...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Skin tests for varicella-zoster virus Treatment Strong anti-inflammatory drugs called steroids (such as prednisone) are usually given. Antiviral medicines, such as acyclovir or valacyclovir may be given.Sometimes strong painkillers are also needed if the pain continues even with steroids. While you have weakness of the face, wear an eye patch to prevent injury to the cornea (corneal abrasion) and other damage to the eye if the eye does not close completely. Some people may use a special eye lubricant at night and artificial tears during the day to prevent the eye from drying out.Corneal abrasionCorneal injury is a wound to the part of the eye known as the cornea. The cornea is the crystal clear (transparent) tissue that covers the front of ...Read Article Now Book Mark Article If you have dizziness, your provider can advise other medicines. Outlook (Prognosis) If there is not much damage to the nerve, you should get better completely within a few weeks. If damage is more severe, you may not fully recover, even after several months.Overall, your chances of recovery are better if the treatment is started within 3 days after the symptoms begin. When treatment is started within this time, most people make a full recovery. If treatment is delayed for more than 3 days, there is less of a chance of complete recovery. Children are more likely to have a complete recovery than adults. Possible Complications Complications of Ramsay Hunt syndrome may include:Changes in the appearance of the face (disfigurement) from loss of movement Change in taste Damage to the eye (corneal ulcers and infections), resulting in a loss of vision Corneal ulcers and infectionsThe cornea is the clear tissue at the front of the eye. A corneal ulcer is an open sore in the outer layer of the cornea. It is often caused by inf...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Nerves that grow back to the wrong structures and cause abnormal reactions to a movement -- for example, smiling causes the eye to close Persistent pain (postherpetic neuralgia) NeuralgiaNeuralgia is a sharp, shocking pain that follows the path of a nerve and is due to irritation or damage to the nerve. Common neuralgias include:Posth...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Spasm of the face muscles or eyelidsOccasionally, the virus may spread to other nerves, or even to the brain and spinal cord. This can cause:Confusion Drowsiness Headaches Limb weakness Nerve painIf these symptoms occur, a hospital stay may be needed. A spinal tap may help determine whether other areas of the nervous system have been infected. When to Contact a Medical Professional Call your provider if you lose movement in your face, or you have a rash on your face and facial weakness. Prevention There is no known way to prevent Ramsay Hunt syndrome, but treating it with medicine soon after symptoms develop can improve recovery.Open ReferencesReferencesDinulos JGH. Warts, herpes simplex, and other viral infections. In: Dinulos JGH, ed. Habif's Clinical Dermatology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 12.Gantz BJ, Roche JP, Redleaf MI, Perry BP, Gubbels SP. Management of Bell's palsy and Ramsay Hunt syndrome. In: Brackmann DE, Shelton C, Arriaga MA, eds. Otologic Surgery. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 27.Naples JG, Brant JA, Ruckenstein MJ. Infections of the external ear. In: Flint PW, Francis HW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 138.Waldman SD. Ramsay Hunt syndrome. In: Waldman SD, ed. Atlas of Uncommon Pain Syndromes. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 14.AllVideoImagesTogRelated Information Shingles(Condition) Review Date: 6/23/2020 Reviewed By: Amit M. Shelat, DO, FACP, FAAN, Attending Neurologist and Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology, Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. 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