Periorbital cellulitis is an infection of the eyelid or skin around the eye.
Periorbital cellulitis can occur at any age, but more commonly affects children younger than 5 years old.
This infection can occur after a scratch, injury, or bug bite around the eye, which allows germs to enter the wound. It can also extend from a nearby site that is infected, such as the sinuses.
Periorbital cellulitis is different than orbital cellulitis, which is an infection of the fat and muscles around the eye. In contrast to periorbital cellulitis, orbital cellulitis is a dangerous infection, which can cause lasting problems and deeper infections.
- 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 often affect vision or cause eye pain.
Exams and Tests
The health care provider will examine the eye and ask about the symptoms.
Tests that may be ordered include:
Antibiotics are given by mouth, by shots, or through a vein (intravenously; IV) to help fight the infection.
Periorbital cellulitis almost always improves with treatment. In rare cases, the infection spreads into the eye socket, resulting in orbital cellulitis.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Contact your provider 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
Durand ML. Periocular infections. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 116.
Olitsky SE, Marsh JD, Jackson MA. Orbital infections. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 652.
Last reviewed on: 11/23/2021
Reviewed by: Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Associate Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Associate in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.