- Justin Bieber said part of his face is paralyzed by an illness called Ramsey Hunt syndrome.
- The condition occurs when a virus infects the facial nerve, and symptoms are usually temporary.
- Ramsey Hunt syndrome is rare and caused by the same virus as chickenpox and shingles.
Pop star Justin Bieber said half his face has been temporarily paralyzed due to a rare medical condition caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox.
The diagnosis is the latest in a series of medical issues Bieber has recently disclosed, including Lyme disease, Epstein Barr and chronic anxiety.
Earlier this week, the singer announced that tour dates would be postponed to allow him to prioritize his health.
The singer shared his condition on Instagram Friday, telling followers he can’t blink his eye or flare his nostril on the right side of his face.
Facial paralysis is a characteristic symptom of Ramsey Hunt syndrome, which occurs when a virus called varicella zoster infects the facial nerve, according to the Mayo Clinic. The virus is typically associated with chickenpox, but also causes shingles — a reactivation of the virus after a person recovers from chickenpox — which leads to a painful, itchy, rash, according to the CDC.
Children are now routinely vaccinated for the chickenpox, which reduces the chances of becoming infected. The vaccine became available in the U.S. in 1995, and approved for use in Canada, where Bieber was born, in 1998.
Ramsey Hunt syndrome can also cause hearing loss, ringing in the ears, painful blisters near the ear. It affects an estimated 5 out of every 100,000 people in the United States per year, according to the Rare Disease Database.
In some cases, the paralysis can be permanent, although symptoms usually resolve after treatment with medications like antiviral drugs and corticosteroids, according to the Mayo Clinic.