Ramsay Hunt syndrome (also termed Hunt's Syndrome and herpes zoster oticus) is a rare neurological disorder characterized by paralysis of the facial nerve (facial palsy) and a rash affecting the ear or mouth caused by herpes zoster virus infection of the geniculate ganglion of the facial nerve. It is caused by reactivation of herpes zoster virus that has previously caused chicken pox in the patient. Ramsay Hunt syndrome is said to be the cause of 16% of all causes of facial palsies in children, and 18% of facial palsies in adults. It is the presumed cause of as many as 20% of clinically diagnosed cases of Bell palsy. It affects men and women equally. However, most cases affect older adults, especially those over 60.
Symptoms include vesicular rash of the ear or mouth, onset of facial paresis/palsy, ipsilateral lower motor neuron facial paresis/palsy, vertigo and hearing loss, tinnitus, otalgia, headaches, dysarthria, ataxia, fever and cervical adenopathy. Ramsay Hunt Syndrome is commonly treated using Corticosteroids and oral antiviral drugs. Steroids (such as prednisone) are usually prescribed for 5-7 days. Antivirals such as acyclovir or valacyclovir, can be given for 7-10 days, although the benefit of antiviral medications is uncertain. Immunization against Varicella zoster may help in preventing relapse of the disease.