What is Ramsay Hunt syndrome (herpes zoster oticus) and how is it associated with otitis externa (OE)?

Updated: Mar 09, 2020
  • Author: Ariel A Waitzman, MD, FRCSC; Chief Editor: Ravindhra G Elluru, MD, PhD  more...
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Ramsay Hunt syndrome, more accurately known as herpes zoster oticus, is caused by varicella-zoster virus (VZV) infection. It is characterized by facial nerve paralysis and sensorineural hearing loss, with bullous myringitis and a vesicular eruption of the concha of the pinna and the external auditory canal (EAC). Painful OE may be present as well. Treatment includes use of an antiviral agent (eg, valacyclovir) and systemic steroids. The role of facial nerve decompression remains controversial.

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