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NINDS Herpes Zoster Oticus Information Page

Synonym(s):   Ramsay Hunt Syndrome II

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What is Herpes Zoster Oticus?

Herpes zoster oticus, also called Ramsay Hunt Syndrome or Ramsay Hunt Syndrome type II, is a common complication of shingles. Shingles is an infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles occurs in people who have had chickenpox and represents a reactivation of the dormant varicella-zoster virus. Herpes zoster oticus, which is caused by the spread of the varicella-zoster virus to facial nerves, is characterized by intense ear pain, a rash around the ear, mouth, face, neck, and scalp, and paralysis of facial nerves. Other symptoms may include hearing loss, vertigo (abnormal sensation of movement), and tinnitus (abnormal sounds). Taste loss in the tongue and dry mouth and eyes may also occur.

Is there any treatment?

Some cases of herpes zoster oticus do not require treatment. When treatment is needed, medications such as antiviral drugs or corticosteroids may be prescribed. Vertigo may be treated with the drug diazepam

What is the prognosis?

Generally, the prognosis of herpes zoster oticus is good. However, in some cases, hearing loss may be permanent. Vertigo may last for days or weeks. Facial paralysis may be temporary or permanent.

What research is being done?

The NINDS supports research on shingles and shingles-related conditions. Current studies focus on the relationship between the persistence of neurotropic viruses and development of neurological diseases including herpes simplex and varicella-zoster viruses.

NIH Patient Recruitment for Herpes Zoster Oticus Clinical Trials

Organizations

Column1 Column2
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
National Institutes of Health, DHHS
31 Center Drive, MSC 2320
Bethesda, MD   20892-2320
nidcdinfo@nidcd.nih.gov
http://www.nidcd.nih.gov
Tel: 301-496-7243/800-241-1044 800-241-1055 (TTD/TTY)

National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)
55 Kenosia Avenue
Danbury, CT   06810
orphan@rarediseases.org
http://www.rarediseases.org
Tel: 203-744-0100 Voice Mail 800-999-NORD (6673)
Fax: 203-798-2291

Office of Rare Diseases
National Institutes of Health, DHHS
6100 Executive Blvd., 3B01, MSC 7518
Bethesda, MD   20892-7518
http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov
Tel: 301-402-4336

 


Prepared by:
Office of Communications and Public Liaison
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892



NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient's medical history.

All NINDS-prepared information is in the public domain and may be freely copied. Credit to the NINDS or the NIH is appreciated.

Last updated February 14, 2011