URL of this page: //www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000976.htm

Periorbital cellulitis

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.


Symptoms include:

  • 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.

Exams and Tests

The health care provider will examine the eye and ask about symptoms.

Tests that may be ordered include:


Antibiotics will be prescribed. They are usually taken by mouth. Or they may also be given as shots (injection).

Outlook (Prognosis)

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


Alternative Names

Preseptal cellulitis


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

Related MedlinePlus Health Topics