Recognizing and Treating Periorbital Cellulitis

An infection of the skin that affects your eyelid or the area surrounding it is called periorbital cellulitis. Although it is more frequent in youngsters, it can also affect adults. Antibiotics are typically successful in treating it.

An infection of the eyelids is called periorbital cellulitis. Presectal cellulitis, another name for the illness, is limited to the tissues infected, preserving the remainder of the ocular structure. Periorbital cellulitis can affect anyone, but it most frequently affects young children.

Consult a physician to rule out a potentially serious problem if you or your kid is displaying symptoms of inflammation or infection around the eyes. Even while periorbital cellulitis rarely poses a serious risk to life, problems can be avoided with treatment.

Here's all the information you need to know about periorbital cellulitis symptoms, risk factors, and possible treatments from a medical professional.

Periorbital cellulitis vs. orbital cellulitis

Both orbital and periorbital cellulitis affect the area surrounding your eyes and cause inflammation and infection.

The primary distinction is that orbital cellulitis affects tissues behind the septum of your eye, whereas periorbital cellulitis affects tissues in front of it (also known as "preseptal"). The thin membrane that covers your eye's orbit is called the septum.

Vision issues and eye pain are also more common side effects of orbital cellulitis. It's a far more dangerous illness that occasionally poses a threat to life.

CT scans are the main imaging test used to definitively differentiate between these two diseases.

What are the symptoms of periorbital cellulitis?

Periorbital cellulitis symptoms are limited to one eye and can include:
  • eyelid swelling
  • red eyes
  • fever
  • fatigue
  • eye discomfort (but not pain)
  • difficulty opening the affected eye
If you or your child is having trouble moving your eye, have double vision, or have a bulging eye, get in touch with a doctor immediately. These could indicate orbital cellulitis, a more dangerous illness.

What causes periorbital cellulitis?

Periorbital cellulitis is usually caused by bacterial infections. The most typical sources of bacteria are:
  • Staphylococcus aureus, which includes MRSA
  • The bacteria streptococcus pneumoniae, which causes pneumonia,
  • Streptococcus pyogenes is the bacteria that causes strep throat.
Fungal infections could potentially be connected to some cases.

Insect bites or unintentional scratches in the vicinity of the eye are the most frequent causes of this infection. This kind of opening up or irritation of the skin might allow bacteria to infiltrate the tissues and cause an infection.

It is also possible for various infections to extend to the orbital septum and result in periorbital cellulitis. Sinus infections are among them. The sinuses are close to the eye region, which increases the risk of infection and its spread.

Who is at risk of periorbital cellulitis?

Because they spend so much time with other kids in daycare centres and schools, young children may be more susceptible to periorbital cellulitis. Rubbing or scratching the area around your eyes regularly can also raise your risk.

Additionally, a history of sinusitis or asthma may make you more susceptible to these diseases.

Individuals who have had surgery on their mouths, heads, or necks may also be more susceptible to cellulitis.

How do doctors diagnose periorbital cellulitis?

For additional assessment and care, you will probably be sent to an ophthalmologist by your primary care physician or emergency room physician.

The following tests can be performed by an opthalmologist or ordered to diagnose periorbital cellulitis:
  • An eye exam: They will search for any indications of cellulitis surrounding your eye, such as swelling and agitation of the eyeball.
  • Health evaluation: Your doctor will inquire about any recent injuries or infections, especially in the vicinity of your eyes. They might also take into account any recent surgery.
  • Tissue tests: A tiny sample of tissue from your nose or eye may be taken by your doctor and sent to a lab for additional testing if they think you have periorbital cellulitis.
  • Blood tests: Although blood tests are usually negative for periorbital cellulitis, they might still be ordered by a physician if they have any suspicions about orbital cellulitis.
  • Imaging tests: This helps rule out ocular cellulitis and typically entails a computed tomography (CT) scan.
When undergoing a CT scan, young children might need to be sedated or put under anaesthesia.

What is the treatment for periorbital cellulitis?

Oral antibiotics are used in the treatment of periorbital cellulitis to eradicate the underlying infection. Even though your symptoms could get better in a day or two, it's crucial to take your medication as directed to prevent the infection from coming back.

Possible sources of antibiotics include:
  • cefpodoxime (Vantin)
  • cefdinir (Omnicef)
  • ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
  • clindamycin
  • cefotaxime (Claforan)
  • metronidazole
  • (TMP-SMX) trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole
  • doxycycline (for those eight years of age and up)
  • Augmentin (amoxicillin-clavulanic acid)
Antibiotics prescribed by doctors are often taken orally. Children with periorbital cellulitis may require many days of intravenous (IV) antibiotic treatment in a hospital.

Cool compresses can also be used to reduce swelling and irritation around the eyes.

What is the outlook for people with periorbital cellulitis?

Antibiotics can be used to treat periorbital cellulitis, which seldom results in life-threatening consequences. Most patients have a 48-hour improvement in their symptoms.

If the problem is not treated, complications may arise. Your eye and other body parts could become infected with the virus. This might result in:
  • orbital cellulitis
  • vision loss
  • meningitis
  • orbital abscess
  • empyema
If, after 48 hours, your symptoms don't get better, see a doctor to prevent problems.

How can I prevent periorbital cellulitis?

Since sinus infections are frequently the cause of periorbital cellulitis, you may be able to avoid developing this illness by washing your hands frequently and avoiding others who may be ill. Additionally, a yearly flu vaccination will help you avoid complications like cellulitis and keep you well.

Additionally, clean any wounds or insect bites, and keep an eye out for any indications of infection.


Extreme swelling is one of the hallmark symptoms of periorbital cellulitis, an infection that originates inside the tissues of the eyelids or other surrounding tissue. Although it is more frequent in youngsters, anyone can contract this infection. Wounds, surgeries, and sinus infections can all raise your risk.

Treatment options for periorbital cellulitis include quick diagnosis, which may reduce the likelihood of complications. It's crucial to visit a doctor for a precise diagnosis and course of treatment, though, as this ailment has the potential to worsen into more significant eye issues.

Frequently asked questions

Take into consideration the following frequently asked questions regarding periorbital cellulitis before consulting with a doctor.

How serious is periorbital cellulitis?

Serious consequences are rare in cases of periorbital cellulitis. On the other hand, periorbital cellulitis can spread to other body areas if left untreated.

Does periorbital cellulitis progress to orbital cellulitis?

Orbital cellulitis may develop from periorbital cellulitis if treatment is not received. The latter is a dangerous ailment that may result in irreversible eye damage. In rare instances, it might even be lethal.

In youngsters, orbital cellulitis is more likely to develop from preorbital cellulitis.

Does periorbital cellulitis need IV antibiotics?

intravenous (IV) antibiotics should be started

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