Ramsay Hunt syndrome type 2

Category: Illness or disabilities



Introduction and description


Ramsay Hunt syndrome type 2, also known as herpes zoster oticus, is a disorder that is caused by the reactivation of the varicella zoster virus in the geniculate ganglion, a nerve cell bundle of the facial nerve. 

It is a variation of Bell’s palsy – a more severe version.  The term reactivation is key here.  You haven’t caught the virus, it has been there all along because VZV exhibits latency.



The affected ganglion is responsible for the movements of facial muscles, the touch sensation of a part of ear and ear canal, the taste function of the frontal two-thirds of the tongue, and the moisturization of the eyes and the mouth. Thus the symptoms directly reflect this:

  • an inability to move many facial muscles – unlike Bell’s palsy, there is usually acute facial nerve paralysis.
  • pain in the ear
  • dry eyes and mouth
  • a red vesicular rash [A vesicle is small blister] – which can occur in the ear canal, the tongue, and/or hard palate.
  • taste loss in the front two-thirds of the tongue

Since the vestibulocochlear nerve is in proximity to the geniculate ganglion, it may also be affected, and patients may also suffer from tinnitus, hearing loss, and vertigo. Involvement of the trigeminal nerve can cause numbness of the face.


Ramsay Hunt syndrome type 2 is caused by the Varicella Zoster virus attacking the geniculate ganglion – the facial nerves.

For more details about this virus and strategies for prevention as well as ways of helping the afflicted please follow the link.

Olivia Chow diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt syndrome

Related observations