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Periorbital Cellulitis In Children


What is periorbital cellulitis?

Periorbital cellulitis is an infection in and under the skin around the eye. It is caused by bacteria. Periorbital cellulitis is most common in children younger than 6 years old.

What increases my child's risk for periorbital cellulitis?

  • A sinus infection
  • A cut, scratch, or foreign object in or near the eye
  • A bite from an insect or animal
  • A deep tooth infection
  • A stye (eyelid bumps) or swelling of the gland that makes tears

What are the signs and symptoms of periorbital cellulitis?

  • Red, warm, swollen eye and eyelid

  • Problems opening or moving the eye
  • Fever
  • Pain and drainage from your child's eye or red streaks on the skin around his eye

How is periorbital cellulitis diagnosed?

Your child's caregiver will examine your child's eye, nose, and face. Your child may need any of the following:

  • Vision test: This test checks your child's vision, eye movement, and eye pressure.
  • Blood tests: Your child may need blood taken to check what kind of bacteria caused his infection.
  • Fluid culture: Your child's caregiver may collect fluid from your child's eye to learn what kind of bacteria caused the infection.
  • CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your child's eye. The pictures may show swelling, abscess, or rupture (tear). Your child may be given a dye before the pictures are taken to help caregivers see the pictures better. Tell the caregiver if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.

How is periorbital cellulitis treated?

With treatment, periorbital cellulitis usually goes away within 2 weeks. Your child may need any of the following:

  • Antibiotics: This medicine helps treat the infection.
  • Ibuprofen or acetaminophen: These medicines help decrease your child's pain and fever. They are available without a doctor's order. Ask how much medicine your child needs and how often to give it.
  • Td vaccine is a booster shot used to help prevent tetanus and diphtheria. The Td booster may be given to adolescents and adults every 10 years or for certain wounds and injuries.

What are the risks of periorbital cellulitis?

Without treatment, the infection can spread to other parts of your child's body. Your child may need to stay in the hospital to treat these infections. Infections that spread to the eye can lead to vision loss. Infections that spread to the brain can be life-threatening.

How can periorbital cellulitis be prevented?

  • Have your child wear proper safety equipment: Protect his face from injury during sports and other activities.
  • Keep wounds clean and dry: Clean wounds on the face with soap and water. Cover wounds with a dry bandage. Use antibiotic ointment on skin breaks to help prevent infection. Do not let your child swim with a skin wound.

How can I manage my child's symptoms?

A warm, damp cloth will help soothe the eye area. Use as often as directed.

When should I contact my child's caregiver?

Contact your child's caregiver if:

  • Your child is bitten by an insect or animal.
  • Your child does not feel better, or his symptoms do not improve in 1 to 2 days.
  • You see red streaks on the skin of the infected area.
  • Your child's eye is more red, swollen, or starts to drain pus.
  • You have questions about your child's condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care?

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • Your child is more sleepy than usual or is hard to wake.
  • Your child has a high fever and chills.
  • Your child says his neck feels stiff.
  • Your child has a headache and vomiting.
  • Your child has blurred or double vision and cannot see well in bright light.
  • Your child's infected eye bulges from his head.
  • Your child has a seizure.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.