Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome is a rare neurological disorder
characterized by recurring facial paralysis, swelling of the face and lips (usually the
upper lip), and the development of folds and furrows in the tongue. Onset is in childhood
or early adolescence. After recurrent attacks (ranging from days to years in between),
swelling may persist and increase, eventually becoming permanent. The lip may become hard,
cracked, and fissured with a reddish-brown discoloration. The cause of
Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome is unknown, but there may be a genetic predisposition. It
can be symptomatic of Crohn's disease or sarcoidosis.
- Early symptoms can develop as early as childhood.
- Treatment is limited to symptoms and may include medication or surgery.
- Full Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome usually develops around 20 years of age.
- Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome is 3 times more common in females than in males.
Symptoms of Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome
Recurring facial paralysis
Swelling of the face and lips (usually the upper lip)
Development of folds and furrows in the tongue.
Is there any treatment for Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome?
Treatment is symptomatic and may include medication therapies with
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids to reduce swelling, as
well as antibiotics and immunosuppressants. Surgery may be recommended to relieve pressure
on the facial nerves and to reduce swollen tissue, but its effectiveness has not been
established. Massage and electrical stimulation may also be prescribed.
What is the prognosis for Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome?
Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome may recur intermittently after its first
appearance. It can become a chronic disorder. Follow-up care should exclude the
development of Crohn's disease or sarcoidosis.