The foreskin is the skin covering the head of the penis (glans). In most babies, the foreskin can't be pulled back (retracted). This is because of the narrow opening at the tip of the foreskin and its attachment to the head of the penis. The inability to retract the foreskin at birth is called congenital phimosis. It's a normal condition.

As your child gets older, the opening of the foreskin widens. Also the foreskin separates from the glans, and it's possible to pull the foreskin back. In some children, this occurs by age 3 to 5 years. In others, it may not occur until the teen years. This is normal. It's important that parents don't try to force the foreskin back. This can cause injury and scarring.

Once the foreskin slides back and forth easily, infection or injury to the foreskin may cause it to get stuck in the forward position. Then it can't be retracted. This is called acquired phimosis. This condition needs to be treated. Circumcision will treat and prevent acquired phimosis from happening again. Nonsurgical treatments are also available. Your child may need to see a urologist to discuss the options.

Home care

  • If there are no symptoms, your child doesn't need any special treatment. Just wash the foreskin and penis daily when bathing. Don't try to force the foreskin back. Change diapers regularly.

  • If you were given a steroid cream, apply it as directed.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider or the urologist you've been referred to as advised.

When to get medical advice

Call your child's healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Pain or swelling in the foreskin or penis

  • Pain or burning when passing urine

  • Partial (dribbling) or complete blockage in the flow of urine

  • Blood (pink or red) coming from the foreskin or seen in the urine

  • Inability to return a retracted foreskin to the normal position . This needs to be treated right away.

  • You're worried about your child's penis or are unsure of the correct care

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