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Can shingles spread to the ear?

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Quick Answer

Shingles can spread into or near the ear and may result in a weakening of the facial muscles and Ramsay Hunt syndrome, according to Everyday Health. Shingles in or around the ear is diagnosed by a doctor who examines the skin around the ear for signs of the rash.

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Full Answer

Ramsay Hunt syndrome occurs when the varicella zoster virus, or shingles, spreads to the facial nerves and causes symptoms different from those of a typical shingles outbreak, Everyday Health explains. These symptoms include loss of hearing, tinnitus and intense ear pain. Ramsay Hunt syndrome is treated with the same antiviral medications used to treat shingles, but it may result in permanent nerve damage if not treated early.

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