Ramsay Hunt Syndrome: what is Justin Bieber’s illness, what is treatment - is it why his tour is cancelled?

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The singer revealed last year he had been diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome after one side of his face was completely paralysed

Justin Bieber has cancelled the remaining dates of his Justice world tour after he revealed last year that he was diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome.

The 29-year-old suffered from facial paralysis on one side of his face after a virus attacked the nerves in his ear in June 2022.

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Following this, the pop singer cancelled upcoming shows of his tour. He said shows last year took a “real toll" and he needed more time to "rest and get better".

Back in June, the Canadian posted a video on Instagram describing how the condition has impacted him and told fans he had been doing facial exercises to regain movement - but that it would take time to recover.

But what is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome and is it curable?

Here’s everything you need to know.

What is Ramsay Hunt syndrome?

Ramsay Hunt syndrome is caused by a virus in the facial nerve and is a more severe cause of facial paralysis.

Justin Bieber revealed he has Ramsay Hunt SyndromeJustin Bieber revealed he has Ramsay Hunt Syndrome
Justin Bieber revealed he has Ramsay Hunt Syndrome | Justin Bieber/Instagram

It may cause blisters in the ears and on the roof of the mouth, as well as facial weakness.

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Ramsay Hunt syndrome is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox.

After chickenpox clears up, the virus still lives in your nerves and years later, it may reactivate. When it does, it can affect your facial nerves, according to Mayo Clinic.

What are the symptoms of facial nerve disorders?

Facial nerve disorders can cause weakness on one or both sides of your face. You might lose your facial expressions and find it difficult to eat, drink and speak clearly, and it can also become difficult to close your eyes and blink, which can lead to damage to your cornea.

Is it curable?

According to NHS University Hospital Southampton, “less than half of patients will recover completely”.

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However, prompt treatment of Ramsay Hunt syndrome can reduce the risk of complications, which can include permanent facial muscle weakness and deafness.

What are the treatments?

Treatments include steroids, antiviral medication, and advice on eye care and facial rehabilitation.

The following can help reduce the discomfort of Ramsay Hunt syndrome:

  • Keep areas affected by the rash clean
  • Apply cool, wet compresses to the rash to ease pain
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever or anti-inflammatory drug, such as ibuprofen 

If you are unable to close one of your eyes due to facial weakness, you can also use

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moisturising eye drops throughout the day if your eye becomes dry, and apply ointment to the eye and tape your eyelid shut or wear an eye patch at night.

What did Justin Bieber say about his condition?

Posting a video on Instagram, Bieber said: “It is from this virus that attacks the nerve in my ear in my facial nerves and has caused my face to have paralysis. As you can see, this eye is not blinking. I can’t smile on this side of my face. This nostril will not move, so there’s full paralysis on this side of my face.”

Bieber attempted to smile, blink and move his face in the video, but one side remained still as he continued to speak.

He added: “So for those who are frustrated by my cancellations of the next shows, I’m just physically, obviously not able of doing them. This is pretty serious as you can see. I wish this wasn’t the case but obviously my body is telling me I gotta slow down.

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“I hope you guys understand, and I’ll be using this time to just rest and relax and get back to 100% so I can do what I was born to do. But in the meantime, this ain’t it.”

Bieber said he has been doing facial exercises to try to regain movement, but added: “We don’t know how much time it is going to be but it’s going to be okay, I have hope and I trust God. I trust it is all for a reason. I’m not sure what that is right now but in the meantime I am going to rest.”

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