Periorbital Cellulitis Pediatric Care Plan

By David Shafran, MD
Medically reviewed
December 14, 2020

What is Periorbital cellulitis?

Periorbital cellulitis, also known as preseptal cellulitis, is an infection of skin surrounding the eye. Unlike orbital cellulitis, the infection does not involve the tissue and muscles inside the eye socket. The infection usually enters through a break in the skin from a scratch or a bug bite. 

Symptoms of periorbital cellulitis may include:

  • Swelling and redness of the eyelid and the skin surrounding the eye which can appear worse after lying down. 
  • Eye pain
  • Fever
  • In some cases the whites of the eyes (sclera) can look swollen

Periorbital Cellulitis Diagnosis and Treatment

Periorbital cellulitis is diagnosed by history and examination. A history of eye trauma or bug bite supports the diagnoses. Imaging is usually not needed unless your provider is worried about possible orbital cellulitis.

Periorbital cellulitis is treated with oral antibiotics assuming the child is able to take them, typically for 5-7 days. Associated symptoms like fever and pain can be treated with acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen. Follow package instructions or check with K for parents for correct dosing.

Check in with K if…

  • You have general questions about your child’s condition
  • You want general followup for your child
  • You have questions about supportive care
  • Your child’s symptoms don’t go away after treatment but are not alarming

See a doctor in person if…

  • If symptoms do not improve within 48-72 hours of starting antibiotics
  • If symptoms get worse at any point
  • If pain with eye movement develops or it becomes difficult to the move the eyes
  • Change in vision
  • If the eye looks like it’s protruding from the socket
  • If you’re uncertain about how your child is doing
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

David Shafran, MD

Dr. Shafran is a board-certified pediatrics physician. He joins K Health from the Cleveland Clinic, where he led a pediatrics practice and completed a fellowship in transplant ethics. He has completed multiple fellowships, including one in pediatric nephrology at Rainbow, Babies & Children's University Hospitals. He received his medical degree from the Sackler School of Medicine in Tel Aviv and completed his medical residency at the Jacobi Medical Center.