Skin oils and secretions often accumulate under the skin of the uncircumcised penis. This may accumulate and irritate the surrounding skin and lead to an infection. The skin can swell, turn red and interfere with the normal flow of urine.

If you notice the foreskin actually balloon, filling with urine, then medical attention is necessary. Urinary tract infections are more likely to occur.

If the foreskin can easily be retracted, a regular program of hygiene will decrease the chances of secondary infections. If you can not easily retract the foreskin, then no attempt should be made. The majority of children will have no difficulty retracting the foreskin after three or 4 years of age. If there is still difficulty retracting the skin do not attempt it because it will eventually loosen enough as the child grows older so that cleaning the area is easier. Return the foreskin to its normal position over the head of the penis. Sometimes the foreskin is so tight it cannot be pulled back. This is a problem and you should get my help if I am in my office or go directly to the Children’s emergency room. The blood supply to the end of the penis can become impaired. This is not only painful but could cause permanent damage to the tip of the penis.

Discharges from the urinary opening are rare before adolescence and require attention at any age. If there is a build up of natural oils it may appear as an infection. Some occasions occur where an infection develops and drainage is necessary. Soaking the area in a warm water bath often enables the child or parent loosen the foreskin, permitting drainage of the oils or a minor infection. If this can not be accomplished I encourage you to seek my consultation.

A common problem with boys is getting the foreskin caught in the zipper. The child is often a 3 to 6 year old. This occurs most often when parents are in a hurry and zip up a younger child. One of the potential calamities of not wearing underwear, adolescents start wearing jeans with buttons or religiously wear underwear if this happens to them. Removal of the zipper can be achieved with one of these methods: soak the zipper and foreskin with mineral oil for 10 minutes then gently pull the foreskin free. If you have a heavy metal cutter you can split the medial bar of the zipper mechanism that will cause the zipper to fall apart and free the foreskin.

Last reviewed April 29,2010