When a shingles outbreak affects the facial nerve near one of your ears, you get Ramsay Hunt syndrome (herpes zoster oticus). Ramsay Hunt syndrome, in addition to the painful shingles rash, can cause facial paralysis and hearing loss in the afflicted ear. The same virus that causes chickenpox causes Ramsay Hunt syndrome. The virus remains in your nerves even after the chickenpox has healed. It may be reawakening years later. When this happens, it can have an impact on your facial nerves. Treatment of Ramsay Hunt syndrome as soon as possible might lessen the risk of sequelae, which can include irreversible facial muscle paralysis and hearing.

Ramsay Hunt syndrome has two primary signs and symptoms:

On, in, and around one ear, a severe red rash with fluid-filled blisters.
Facial paralysis or weakness on the same side as the afflicted ear
Typically, rash and facial paralysis occur concurrently. Sometimes one occurs before the other. Sometimes the rash never appears.
When a shingles virus affects nerve fibres, this agonizing disease develops. These nerve fibers’ messages become jumbled and amplified, resulting in pain that may continue long after the other signs and symptoms of Ramsay Hunt syndrome have disappeared.


Children are now routinely immunized against chickenpox, dramatically reducing the risk of infection with the chickenpox virus. A shingles vaccine is also advised for persons over the age of 50.

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