What is Phimosis?

The condition affects uncircumcised males and young boys. It can happen naturally (physiological phimosis) or be acquired through tears, infection and scarring of the foreskin or the glans.

The majority of boys will overcome phimosis on their own by the time puberty arrives. In some instances it is necessary to treat tension or pain in the foreskin.


Phimosis happens when the foreskin of the penis is tight and cannot be retracted. This makes it difficult and painful for males to pass urine or have a sexual intimacy.

This condition can manifest at any age, but is most common in newborns. If it occurs, a doctor will typically diagnose the condition with physical examination and a review of symptoms.

There are various treatments for phimosis. The treatment typically starts with steroid creams that encourage the foreskin to loosen.

In some cases there are instances where surgery is required. Surgery is often recommended in cases where the condition is not likely to improve on its own, especially if symptoms are severe or if there is damage or scarring in the foreskin. Surgery is typically done when balanitis is xerotic obliterans (BXO) is present and the steroid creams are no longer effective or in the case of an infection of the foreskin which is not getting better by steroid therapy.

Signs and symptoms

Phimosis occurs when the foreskin becomes too tight to be pulled back over the head of the penis (glans). This is normal in babies and toddlers who don’t have circumcision, but it often goes away by the age of 3 years old.

If the skin of your forearm is extremely tight or does not retract when you pull it, it can cause problems with urinary tract issues. It could also increase your risk of developing balanitis, an inflammation of the glans.

It can be treated with regular hygiene or with a cream or ointment that assists the skin to loosen. Avoid soaps and detergents which can cause irritation to your penis.

In a few boys, phimosis can be caused by infection or scarring. This is known as pathological Phimosis. It is rare but it can occur to people who have had repeated infections or tears in the foreskin. It’s associated with sexually transmitted infections, so it’s crucial to see your doctor if you have this.


A physical exam and a review of symptoms are typically used to diagnose phimosis. A doctor will ask about the patient’s medical and family history, which includes any past infections or injuries to the penis.

A urine test or swab can be required to determine if an infection is present in the glans or penis. This could be due to an infection caused by a fungus or bacteria. They are typically treated with antibiotics and antifungal ointments.

For children who are young the condition may improve on its own as the skin loosens. If the foreskin remains too tight by the age of 3 years old, a steroid may be used to loosen the adhesive band that prevents the foreskin from retraction. If this does not work, the procedure of circumcision is recommended. It is common for older males to undergo circumcision to reduce the discomfort caused by phimosis. It also decreases the risk of penile cancer and urinary tract problems.

The following is a list of preventatives.

There are some things that you can do to help stop phimosis. One of the most important is to practice good hygiene. Cleansing your penis using warm water and foreskin gently every day will help prevent irritation or infection.

Castor oil is another thing you can use of foreskin to help lubricate the penis. This will make retracting the foreskin and reduce scar tissue development.

If you have a circumcised penis you can also maintain a healthy hygiene routine and pull your foreskin after having sex or when you wash your body. This will help you remove smegma that is a thick substance under your skin.

It is also advisable to contact your doctor if the penis’s tip is dark blue or red due to lack of blood flow. This could mean you are suffering from paraphimosis. It may be painful and requires urgent medical attention. Depending on the severity, your doctor might need to cut an incision of a small size or the procedure of circumcision.