Justin Bieber fans upset that he's had to cancel some recent shows may be more understanding now that he's saying why. E! Online reports the 28-year-old singer is "taking time off to rest," due to a rare condition he revealed Friday on Instagram. In his online update, Bieber noted he has Ramsay Hunt syndrome, a neurological disorder that affects the facial nerve near a patient's ear due to a shingles outbreak. "It is from this virus that attacks the nerve in my ear and my facial nerves and has caused my face to have paralysis," Bieber said. "As you can see, this eye is not blinking. I can't smile on this side of my face. This nostril will not move."
In an Instagram story he also posted Friday, Bieber added it's "been getting progressively harder to eat which has been extremely frustrating," People notes. He asked fans to "please pray for me." The Mayo Clinic explains that both shingles and Ramsay Hunt syndrome are caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox—a virus that can remain dormant inside people for years, long after that illness is over. Then, if it reactivates in the way it has in Bieber, it can cause a painful rash near the affected ear, hearing loss, and weakness or paralysis on the side of the face near that ear.
Bieber noted in his post that he's simply unable to perform right now, but he remains optimistic that he can work his way back into good health, including through facial exercises that he's doing. "This is pretty serious as you can see," he said. "I wish this wasn't the case, but obviously my body is telling me I gotta slow down. I hope you guys understand, and I'll be using this time to just rest and relax and get back to 100% so that I can do what I was born to do." (Read more Justin Bieber stories.)