Periorbital cellulitis is an infection of the eyelid or skin around the eye.
Periorbital cellulitis commonly affects children under 18 months old.
This infection can occur after a scratch, injury, or bug bite around the eye, which allows germs to enter the wound. Or it can extend from a nearby site that is infected, such as the sinuses.
- 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 vision or cause eye pain.
Antibiotics will be prescribed. They are usually taken by mouth. Or they may also be given as shots (injection).
Periorbital cellulitis almost always improves with treatment. In rare cases, the infection spreads into the eye socket, the tissues that surround the eye, and the eyeball itself. This infection is called orbital cellulitis.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
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. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2012:chap 87.
Olitsky SE, Hug D, Plummer LS, Stass-Isern M. Orbital infections. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW III, et al., eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 626.
Update Date 11/20/2013
Updated by: 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, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.