Clinical Presentation and Bacteriology of Eyebrow Infections: The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Experience (2008–2015)

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Abstract

Purpose:

This study retrospectively reviews preseptal cellulitis and abscesses involving the eyebrow to elucidate the bacteriology and potential causative factors.

Methods:

A retrospective chart review was conducted to identify patients who had been diagnosed with preseptal cellulitis or abscess involving the eyebrow at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary between 2008 and 2015. Demographic, clinical, and microbiological data were collected.

Results:

Eighty patients with eyebrow infections were identified, of whom 49 (61.3%) were female and 31 (38.7%) were male. The median age was 37 years (range 14–67 years). Eyebrow abscess was present in 54 cases (67.5%), while 26 cases (32.5%) were limited to preseptal cellulitis without abscess formation. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus was found in 20 abscesses (39.2% of culture results), and methicillin-sensitive S. aureus was found in 12 abscesses (23.5% of culture results). Coagulase-negative staphylococci were present in 7 eyebrow abscesses (13.7% of culture results). Clinical history was remarkable for eyebrow hair removal (tweezing, waxing, threading, or shaving) in 17 cases (21.3%), manipulation of acne lesions (“popping,” “picking,” or “squeezing”) in 6 cases (7.5%), and both brow hair removal and acne manipulation in 1 case (1.3%).

Conclusions:

There is a high incidence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in the bacteriology of eyebrow infections. Empirical antibiotic coverage for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus should be strongly considered in any patient with an eyebrow area abscess or preseptal cellulitis. Individuals who practice cosmetic eyebrow grooming should be encouraged to consider hygiene practices, which could reduce the risk of infection.

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