Ramsay Hunt syndrome 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. Ramsay Hunt syndrome is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox. 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 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. It is treated using corticosteroids (prednisone) and oral antiviral drugs (acyclovir or valacyclovir), although the benefit of antiviral medications is uncertain. Some people may use a special eye lubricant at night and artificial tears during the day to prevent the eye from drying out.