Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

Ramsay Hunt syndrome or Ramsay Hunt syndrome is a condition characterized by facial paralysis. This disease is a complication of shingles or smallpox. Ramsay Hunt syndrome is more common in adults.

Ramsay Hunt syndrome is also known as herpes zoster oticus. This condition is rare, but if left untreated, Ramsay Hunt syndrome can lead to facial muscle deformities and permanent deafness.

Ramsay Hunt syndrome and Bell's palsy have similar symptoms, namely paralysis on one side of the face. However, the two conditions are different. The difference between the two is that Ramsay Hunt syndrome causes symptoms in the form of a painful rash around the ear, while Bell's palsy does not.

Causes of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

Ramsay Hunt syndrome is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox . After a person with chickenpox recovers, the virus does not die, but only remains dormant in the body.

The varicella-zoster virus that is active again will cause shingles or shingles. If the virus infects the facial nerve near the ear, the patient will get Ramsay Hunt syndrome.

Risk factors for Ramsay Hunt syndrome

Ramsay Hunt syndrome can affect anyone who has had chickenpox. However, there are other factors that can increase the risk of Ramsay Hunt syndrome, namely:

  • Over 60 years old
  • Have a weak immune system, for example because of cancer, diabetes , autoimmune diseases, or HIV / AIDS
  • Experiencing malnutrition or malnutrition
  • Suffering from another germ infection, such as a bacterial or fungal infection

Symptoms of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

Sufferers of Ramsay Hunt syndrome can experience two main symptoms, namely:

  • A reddish rash accompanied by painful blisters in the ear, earlobe, to the roof of the mouth
  • Facial paralysis on the affected side, which makes it difficult for sufferers to close one eye, eat, and make facial movements

The appearance of the rash and facial paralysis generally occur only on one side and occur simultaneously. However, in some cases, facial paralysis is not accompanied by a rash.

Apart from these two main symptoms, Ramsay Hunt syndrome can also cause other symptoms, such as:

  • Severe earache
  • Hearing disorders
  • Ringing ears ( tinnitus )
  • Dry mouth and eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Increased sensitivity to sound (hyperacusis)
  • vertigo
  • Impaired sense of taste (dysgeusia)

When to see a doctor

Immediately to the doctor if you experience a red rash and paralysis on one side of the face. Early examination is needed so that these conditions can be treated immediately. In this way, facial disfigurement and permanent deafness can be avoided.

Diagnosis of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

To diagnose Ramsay Hunt syndrome, the doctor will conduct a question and answer session regarding the patient's complaints and medical history. After that, the doctor will carry out a physical examination.

Doctors can usually diagnose Ramsay Hunt syndrome by looking at the rash around the ear. However, to confirm the diagnosis, the doctor will carry out further tests by taking fluid samples from the patient's blisters. This fluid sample will be examined in the laboratory to detect the varicella-zoster virus.

Treatment of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

Ramsay Hunt syndrome treatment should be done as soon as the doctor confirms the diagnosis. The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms and prevent complications.

The following are treatment methods that can be used to treat Ramsay Hunt syndrome:


Generally, the doctor will give some of the following medicines:

  • Antiviral drugs, such as acyclovir , valacyclovir, or famciclovir, to treat the varicella-zoster virus
  • Corticosteroids , such as prednisone, to reduce skin inflammation
  • Benzodiazepines , to treat vertigo
  • Paracetamol or ibuprofen, for pain relief
  • Carbamazepine , for severe pain

Self-care at home

Apart from medicines, patients can also do self-care at home to speed up the healing process, such as:

  • Keep the area where the rash appears clean
  • Apply cold compresses to the rash to relieve pain
  • Use eye drops if your eyes are dry
  • Wearing an eye patch when sleeping

Complications of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

Ramsay Hunt syndrome that is not treated immediately can cause several complications, namely:

  • Permanent facial paralysis
  • Hearing loss or deafness
  • Corneal abrasion
  • Postherpetic neuralgia , which is pain that lasts in the long term after Ramsay Hunt syndrome has healed
  • Depression due to an asymmetrical face

Prevention of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

The best step that can be taken to reduce the risk of Ramsay Hunt syndrome is to get the chickenpox vaccine . This vaccination is recommended for people aged 50 years and over.

Please note, Ramsay Hunt syndrome cannot be transmitted to other people. However, people with Ramsay Hunt syndrome can still transmit the varicella-zoster virus to people who have never had chickenpox or received smallpox vaccination, as well as to people with weak immune systems.

Therefore, for sufferers of Ramsay Hunt syndrome , do the following to prevent the spread of the varicella-zoster virus:

  • Close the rash that appears on the skin.
  • Don't touch or scratch the rash.
  • Wash hands with soap and running water regularly.
  • Avoid contact with people who have never had chickenpox and have never received a chickenpox vaccine.
  • Avoid contact with pregnant women, infants , patients on immunosuppressant therapy, chemotherapy patients , and HIV/AIDS patients.
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