Periorbital cellulitis is an infection of the eyelid or skin around the eye.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Periorbital cellulitis is more common in children under age 6.
It can occur after a scratch or bug bite around the eye allow germs or bacteria to cause an infection.
It can be the result of minor injury to the area around the eye, or it may extend from another site of infection, such as sinusitis.
A stye or chalazion may also become worse and involve the eyelid.
- Redness around the eye or in the white part of the eye
- Swelling of the eyelid, whites of eyes, and surrounding area
This condition does not usually affect your vision or cause eye pain.
The health care provider will examine the eye.
Antibiotics will be prescribed. They are usually taken by mouth. However, you may also receive a shot of antibiotics.
Periorbital cellulitis almost always improves with treatment. In rare cases, the infection may spread into the eye socket, the tissues that surround the eye, and the eyeball itself. This is called orbital cellulitis.
Calling your health care provider
Call your doctor right away if:
- The eye becomes red or swollen
- Symptoms get worse after treatment
- Fever develops along with eye symptoms
- It is difficult or painful to move the eye
- The eye looks like it is sticking (bulging) out
- There are vision changes
Wald ER. Periorbital and orbital infections. In: Long SS, ed. Principles and Practice of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2008:chap 89.
Olitsky SE, Hug D, Plummer LS, Stass-Isern M. Orbital infections. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 626.
Last reviewed 12/6/2011 by David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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