Ramsay Hunt syndrome (also termed Hunt's Syndrome) is a 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 chickenpox in the patient. In addition to the painful shingles rash, Ramsay Hunt syndrome can cause facial paralysis and hearing loss in the affected ear. After chickenpox heals, the virus lies dormant in the nerves snd years later, it may reactivate affecting the facial nerve. 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.
Symptoms of the disease include vesicular rash of the ear or mouth, onset of facial paresis, lower motor neuron facial paresis/palsy, vertigo and hearing loss, tinnitus, otalgia, headaches, dysarthria and fever. Delay of treatment may result in permanent facial nerve paralysis. Steroids (such as prednisone) are usually prescribed for 5-7 days. Antivirals such as acyclovir or valacyclovir, can be given for 7-10 days. Some people may use a special eye lubricant at night and artificial tears during the day to prevent the eye from drying out.