Herpes Zoster Oticus

Herpes zoster oticus is an infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus. The condition is characterized by intense ear pain, a rash on the face, and paralysis of facial nerves. Symptoms include hearing loss, vertigo, and tinnitus. Some cases do not require treatment; however, if treatment is necessary, medications such as antiviral drugs or corticosteroids may be prescribed.

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 also causes chickenpox. Shingles occurs in people who have had chickenpox and represents a reactivation of the dormant varicella-zoster virus.
 

What Are the Symptoms?

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 (spinning sensation)
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Taste loss in the tongue
  • Dry mouth and eyes.
     

Treating Herpes Zoster Oticus

Some cases of herpes zoster oticus do not require treatment. When treatment is needed, medications such as antiviral drugs or corticosteroids such as prednisone may be prescribed. Vertigo may be treated with the drug diazepam (Valium®).
 
Examples of antiviral medicines used for relieving herpes zoster oticus or other shingles symptoms include:
 
 
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