Home Health Ramsay Hunt syndrome (RHS): Signs & Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Ramsay Hunt syndrome (RHS): Signs & Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Ramsey Hunt Syndrome

Ramsay Hunt syndrome (RHS) is a rare neurological condition characterized by facial nerve paralysis (facial palsy) and an ear or mouth rash. Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and hearing loss are two examples of ear disorders.

Signs & Symptoms

The symptoms of Ramsay Hunt syndrome vary from case to case. Affected individuals usually experience paralysis (palsy) of the facial nerve and a rash affecting the ear. These two symptoms do not always occur simultaneously. In most cases, only one side of the face is affected (unilateral).

  • paralysis (palsy) of the facial nerve
  • rash affecting the ear.


The varicella-zoster virus causes Ramsay Hunt syndrome, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox and shingles. In a person who has had chickenpox as a kid, the virus can lay latent for decades. When the varicella-zoster virus reactivates, it causes shingles and, in certain circumstances, Ramsay Hunt syndrome. It’s unclear why the virus reactivates in Ramsay Hunt syndrome and damages the facial nerve.

Related Disorders

The following illnesses have symptoms that are comparable to Ramsay Hunt syndrome;

  • Bell’s palsy
  • Acoustic neuroma
  • Trigeminal neuralgia

Diagnosis & Treatment


The diagnosis of Ramsay Hunt syndrome is made after a comprehensive clinical examination, a full patient history, and the recognition of specific symptoms (i.e. facial palsy and rash). Although viral tests can identify the varicella-zoster virus in saliva, tears, and blood, they are not required to diagnose Ramsay Hunt syndrome.

Rare Diseases Org. stated in a publication that because the disorder’s specific symptoms (otalgia, facial paralysis, and the unique rash) may not usually appear at the same time, diagnosing Ramsay Hunt syndrome can be challenging.


Antiviral drugs like acyclovir or famciclovir, as well as corticosteroids like prednisone, are routinely used to treat Ramsay Hunt syndrome. The majority of experts believe that starting antiviral medication within three days after commencement looks to be the most beneficial, since early diagnosis and management tend to enhance results. In certain situations, facial paralysis and hearing loss may become permanent despite treatment.


What triggers Ramsay Hunt syndrome?

The same virus that causes chickenpox causes Ramsay Hunt syndrome. The virus remains in your nerves after chickenpox has healed. It might reawaken years later. It might harm your face nerves if this happens.

How long does Ramsay Hunt syndrome last?

According to Mount Sinai, if there is not much damage to the nerve, you should get better completely within a few weeks. If damage is more severe, you may not fully recover, even after several months. Overall, your chances of recovery are better if the treatment is started within 3 days after the symptoms begin.

What is the difference between Ramsay Hunt syndrome and Bell’s palsy?

Compared with Bell’s palsy (facial paralysis without rash), patients with Ramsay Hunt syndrome often have more severe paralysis at onset and are less likely to recover completely.

Is Ramsay Hunt syndrome serious?

Yes! Ramsey Hunt syndrome is a rare yet severe condition that causes facial weakness or paralysis, and a rash on the outer ear.

Is Ramsay Hunt contagious?

The Ramsey Hunt syndrome is not contagious; however, the herpes zoster virus that can be found in the blisters of Ramsay Hunt syndrome can be transmitted to other people and cause chickenpox in those who are unvaccinated against chickenpox and who have never had chickenpox.


The inability to correctly seal the eye might expose the cornea to abnormal drying and foreign body irritation, people with Ramsay Hunt syndrome must take extra precautions to avoid corneal damage. To preserve the cornea, artificial tears and lubricating ointments may be administered.

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