Society, Sexuality

What is Phimosis?

A boy who cannot remove his foreskin from the head of the penis is said to have phimosis. It is a very common condition in young boys, and most children are free of it by late adolescence.

A physical examination of the foreskin and penis will help a doctor diagnose the presence of phimosis. A urine sample or swab could also be conducted.


Phimosis occurs when the foreskin becomes too tight to be pulled back over the head of the penis (glans). It’s common in infants and toddlers, however it can cause problems later on.

The condition typically improves on its own for young boys and men However, older men may have to undergo corrective surgery (circumcision) to avoid further problems. This is especially true if the tight skin of the foreskin hinders the urinate flow or sexual function.

A tight foreskin could block the flow of blood to the tip of the penis leading to swelling and pain. The glans could also be affected by inflammation, which is called balanitis.

Phimosis can also be triggered by other conditions, such as an infection or inflammation in the foreskin, glans or the lichen sclerosus. If your doctor suspects infection, a sample of your foreskin could be taken and studied in a lab to see if it is caused by bacteria or fungus. If you are suffering from a fungus infection, you may be prescribed antifungal Ointments.


Phimosis is usually diagnosed through a physical exam. A doctor will ask you about any symptoms you or your child may have experienced, and then examine the penis and foreskin in order to determine if there is any damage that could trigger the condition.

If the issue is physiologic and there are no other symptoms present, a gentle manual retraction every day is usually enough to resolve it. If none of this works or your child has problems in urinating, then an ointment with steroid-like properties can be used.

If steroid creams fail to work and the condition is caused by balanitis, xeroticobliterans, (BXO) Your doctor may recommend circumcision.

A circumcision procedure which removes the foreskin, and frees the glans. It can lead to painful sexual erections, or infection of the foreskin, if the condition is severe. It is also linked to an increased chance of developing penile cancer. If your child suffers from BXO it is recommended that they be taken to an pediatric urologist for evaluation and treatment.


Phimosis is a disorder in which the foreskin (the skin covering your penis) gets stuck over the glans of the penis due to it being too tight. It’s usually a normal aspect of development in infants and children up to around 7 years old, but there are times when it may be an issue.

It can cause pain, infection and difficulty in sexual activity. If you or your children suffer from phimosis, it is recommended that you see a doctor immediately – for example, if there pain when you urinate or the white ring that appears on your skin appears to be scar tissue.

Your doctor will listen carefully to your symptoms and then perform a physical exam. They might also take a swab of your foreskin to check for bacteria, or a smear of your urine to check for fungal or bacterial infections.

Surgery or steroid creams are a way to treat phimosis. The surgery is only recommended when the foreskin doesn’t retract on its own, or when there is an infection caused by a fungal, bacterial or fungus-related cause that doesn’t respond well to steroid lotions.


A foreskin that is excessively tight or difficult to retract could be harmful to a man’s sexual health and well-being. It could cause irritation, inflammation redness, discoloration and irritation of the skin, and discomfort when you urinate.

To prevent a foreskin from becoming stiff requires a good hygiene. This includes daily cleaning, gently stretching the foreskin and staying clear of rough handling of the foreskin.

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In some boys, phimosis could disappear by puberty and the foreskin can be easy to retract. If this is the case, or the problem persists or causes other issues such as frequent irritation or infections, circumcision might be recommended.

To prevent phimosis in adulthood (, wash your penis and foreskin with a mild soap or one that is not perfumed. Gently pull back the foreskin whenever you urinate, and never abandon it when you go to the bathroom or showering.

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