Periorbital Cellulitis

Periorbital (or preseptal) cellulitis, is an infective oedema of the eyelids and periorbital skin with no involvement of the orbit. Periorbital cellulitis is usually caused by Staphylococcus, streptococcus or Haemophilus bacteriae (more likely in unimmunised children).

Periorbital cellulitis can follow a minor injury to the eye. It can also occur following another infection, such as a cough or cold, where the infection spreads to the eye or following sinusitis. Periorbital cellulitis is infection of the eyelid skin anterior to the orbital septum. Orbital cellulitis is infection of the orbital tissues posterior to the orbital septum.

Very occasionally, periorbital cellulitis can progress to orbital cellulitis. This is more likely in children than adults, who are also harder to clinically assess. Orbital cellulitis (an infection of soft tissues in the orbit) is a surgical emergency with significant complications. These include loss of vision, abscess formation, venous sinus thrombosis and extension to intracranial infection with subdural empyema, and meningitis.  This guide covers when to refer for hospital management.

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