Health Information and Tools > Patient Care Handouts >  Cellulitis of the Eye: Care Instructions

Main Content

Cellulitis of the Eye: Care Instructions

Anatomy of the eye

Your Care Instructions

Cellulitis of the eye is an infection of the skin and tissues around the eye. It is also called preseptal cellulitis or periorbital cellulitis. It is usually caused by bacteria.

This type of infection may happen after a sinus infection or a dental infection. It could also happen after an insect bite or an injury to the face. It most often occurs where there is a break in the skin.

Cellulitis of the eye can be very serious. It's important to treat it right away. If you do, it usually goes away without lasting problems. Medicine and home treatment can help you get better.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your antibiotics as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Do not wear contact lenses unless your doctor tells you it is okay.
  • Prop up your head on pillows, and put a cool, damp cloth on your eye. This can reduce swelling and pain.
  • If your doctor recommends it, use a warm pack on your eye.
  • Keep the skin around your eye clean and dry.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.

To prevent cellulitis

  • Wash your hands well after you use the toilet and before and after you eat.
  • Do not rub or pick at the skin around your eyes. Cellulitis occurs most often where there is a break in the skin.
  • If you get a cut, pimple, or insect bite near your eye, clean the area as soon as you can. This can help prevent an infection.
    • Wash the area with cool water and a mild soap, such as Ivory.
    • Do not use rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or iodine. These can harm the tissues and slow healing.
  • Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you have a sinus infection with redness or swelling of your eyes.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse signs of an eye infection, such as:
    • Pus or thick discharge coming from the eye.
    • Redness or swelling around the eye.
    • A fever.
  • Your eye seems to be bulging out.
  • You seem to be getting sicker.
  • You have vision changes.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

Enter B793 in the search box to learn more about "Cellulitis of the Eye: Care Instructions".

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.