Primary Care Liaison

Stye or Chalazion

  • Please see other ophthalmology guidelines as needed. 

    This guideline has not yet had a GP working group review.  We appreciate your feedback.

    See resources for referral form, parent information and more.

    Initial findings and when to refer

    • Lump in or beneath the skin of the eyelid -
      • Refer non-urgently for excision when stye/ chalazion is unresponsive to treatment for > 3 months.
    • Skin around the stye/ chalazion appears cellulitic or painful -
      • IMMEDIATE REFERRAL if complications are unresponsive to antibiotic treatment.

    Recommended pre-referral assessment / treatment

    Styes or chalazia will often disappear on their own. Most will expand in size and then spontaneously rupture. Topical antibiotics are of limited value in this situation.

    • Treat with warm compresses (clean, warm washcloth held against closed eyelid) for 2-5 minutes, 2 - 5 times per day.
    • Commence chloramphenicol ointment or drops, or oral antibiotics as appropriate. Refer to the Paediatric Pharmacopoeia.
      • Review in 1-2 days to re-evaluate. Refer if the treatment is ineffective.

    Contact information

    RCH Switchboardtelephone (03) 9345 5522

    For clinical advice ask for:

    • Ophthalmology registrar or fellow on-call
      • Department of Ophthalmology - clinical advice (or direct dial 03 9345 5630)
      • Emergency Department - for clinical advice after hours
    For outpatient bookings fax to 03 9345 5034 (number also on referral form)
    • For urgent appointments also call 03 9345 6180

    Admission enquiries ask for:

    • General admission enquiries (or direct dial 03 9345 6172)
    • ED admission enquiries: (or direct dial 03 9345 6477)



    Paediatric Handbook (2009). Eye Conditions, Chapter 23 (pp357-368). James Elder and Peter Barnett. 8th Ed, Blackwell Publishing by the Staff of the Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne. Australia.


    Please give feedback on this guideline - / telephone: (03) 9345 4645 / fax (03) 9345 4650

    Last updated August 2011

    Guideline developed by the RCH Department of Ophthalmology. First published Dec 2007. Please read  Copyright and Disclaimer