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 chickenpox in the patient. 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. People with a previous chickenpox can potentially develop Ramsay Hunt syndrome. However, most cases affect older adults, especially those over 60. It is is commonly treated using Corticosteroids and oral antiviral drugs. Immunization against Varicella zoster may help in preventing relapse of the disease.