Phimosis (aka Tight Foreskin): Treatment Options

Phimosis is the health condition in which, the foreskin can’t be pulled back from the tip of the penis. Normally, boys till the age of 3 who are not circumcised can’t pull the foreskin back. However, if after the age of 3, the foreskin can’t be pulled back, that generally indicates phimosis. [1]
Phimosis is a completely common condition. Treatment is only required when there is a problem in urinating. The need for treatment for this condition might change with age.

This condition is pretty easy to detect and we would discuss some of the symptoms of phimosis below.


What are the symptoms of phimosis?

phimosis description

Phimosis can be detected with the help of the different symptoms. We would list some of the symptoms below.
1. No retraction of the foreskin:
Phimosis results in the foreskin not retracting after the age of 3. Generally speaking, by the age of 17, most of the boys should be able to retract the foreskin from the tip of the penis.

Thus, the main symptom of this condition is not being able to retract the foreskin.[1]

2. Pain During urination:
An additional symptom is that during urination, the foreskin might get swelled due to phimosis. This is due to the formation of a bubble type structure below the foreskin over a longer period of time.

3. Frequent bacterial infections:
For a healthy male, it is necessary to move the foreskin back and to clean the head of the penis. However, individuals who are suffering from this condition are not able to do so. That is why they are always in danger of bacterial infections occurring. Thus, frequent bacterial infections in the penis is another symptom of this condition.

With the help of any of these 3 symptoms, you would be able to detect this ailment quite easily.

What are the causes of phimosis?

The cause of phimosis is not yet well-defined. There is no scientific evidence to suggest, why certain boy suffers from this condition whereas others do not. One of the probable causes can be an injury caused due to forcible retraction of the foreskin before proper development age. This would cause scars on the foreskin and also due to the injury caused, the foreskin would not be able to retract properly at a later stage.
Phimosis can also be caused due to a condition which is known as Balanitis. This condition is caused due to the inflammation of the glans. This is a result of an infection which is caused due to improper cleaning of the penis head.

How to cure phimosis?

If you or your child is suffering from phimosis, there is no need to worry. There is a three-step procedure which you have to follow. With the help of this 3 step procedure, you would be able to this condition successfully.

1. Waiting for the right age

Before the age of 3, most of the children have their foreskin attached to the head of the penis. That is why, if your child is below the age of 3, there is nothing to worry about. At this age, the foreskin is still not ready to be pulled back. That is why even if you’re trying to pull it back you would end up hurting your child. Also, a healthy male should only be worried if he is not able to pull the foreskin back by the age of 17. You have to wait until the right age to detect this condition and start the treatment accordingly.

2. No self-treatment

Phimosis requires proper medical attention. Trying to forcibly pull the foreskin back yourself would only cause injuries. That is why, instead of hurting the penis, it is a much better idea to take medical help. Forcible irritating the foreskin can cause other infections as well as scarring which can permanently damage the foreskin. That is why strictly you have to avoid any kind of self-treatment. Instead of thinking that it is an embarrassing situation, you have to speak with your doctor and the doctor would be able to suggest you proper treatment.

3. Treatment options

There are 3 different keywords which you can opt for when it comes to phimosis. We would now go into the details of these 3 options in order to better understand each option and how effective it is.

• Waiting it out:
In most of the cases, if the individual is below the age of 17, it is a better idea to wait it out. Normally, after the age of 17, the individual would be able to pull the foreskin back quite easily. Instead of hurrying into a treatment, it is a much better idea to wait it out if the individual is below the age threshold.

• Using the steroid cream:
This is a nonsurgical treatment which should be prescribed by the doctor. The doctor would prescribe a steroid cream which you have to apply to the foreskin at least twice a day. This would help you in stretching the foreskin. Within 4 to 8 weeks, the skin would reach a point where you would be able to pull it back quite easily.
Instead of trying to pull the foreskin back right from day one of using the steroid cream, it is a better idea to wait for at least 2 weeks. Thereafter, each day you had to try gradually pulling the foreskin back. If at any point in time, you are suffering from any kind of pain, it is better to stop the exercise and continue the application of the steroid cream as normal.
This nonsurgical treatment is effective in at least half of the cases. [2]

• Surgical option:
In case, the above treatment does not work, you would have to go for a surgery. Using the surgery, the doctor would remove the foreskin fully which is known as circumcision or the doctor would remove part of the foreskin. If the partial foreskin is removed, it may become tight again after a period of time. That is why most of the doctors would recommend complete removal of the foreskin. With the help of local anesthesia(for adults), the surgery is carried out and the foreskin is removed.

phimosis surgery

These 3 steps can help you in curing phimosis, the right way.

So, if you or someone you know is suffering from phimosis, it can be easily cured with the help of the above few treatments. Phimosis is pretty common and is nothing to be worried or embarrassed about. If anyone you know is suffering from this condition, it is a better idea to recommend them a doctor or a medical practitioner so that they are able to cure the condition.


[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0027067/
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0079408/



One Comment

  1. – Boys don’t have phimosis after age 3. We are born with a “non retractile” foreskin than can take up to puberty to settle. 10% will be retractile by age 1, 50% by age 10, 99% by age 17.

    – Phimosis isn’t common. Only 1-2% guys will experience it and prior to age 17 is usually overdiagnosed.

    – Phimosis is pathological, distinguished by a ring of scar issue on foreskin opening. The fact we can’t retract foreskin in childhood isn’t phimosis.

    – Phimosis should only be treated if symptomatic. And manual stretching is a non invasive option too, not only creams. And preputioplasty (not circumcision) should be offered as last resort.


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