Uncircumcised penis: Is special care needed?

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Uncircumcised penis: Is special care needed?

Question

I'm not planning to have my newborn son circumcised. How should I care for his uncircumcised penis?

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Answer

In an uncircumcised penis, a fold of skin (foreskin) covers the head of the penis. If you choose not to have your son circumcised, simply wash his uncircumcised penis with soap and water during each bath. There's no need to use cotton swabs or special cleansers. Treat the foreskin gently, being careful not to pull it back forcibly. Consult the doctor if your son seems to have discomfort while urinating — especially if the foreskin fills with urine or balloons out during urination — or the foreskin becomes red, itchy or swollen.

As your son gets older, the foreskin of his uncircumcised penis will begin to separate from the tip of the penis. This allows the foreskin to be pulled back (retracted). Some boys can retract the foreskin by age 5 or even earlier, while others can't do so until puberty. As soon as the foreskin can be retracted, it's important to clean beneath it regularly. Teach your son to:

  • Gently pull back the foreskin
  • Clean beneath the foreskin with mild soap and water
  • Rinse and dry beneath the foreskin thoroughly
  • Pull the foreskin back over the head of the penis

Encourage your son to follow the same procedure through adulthood as part of his daily bathing routine.

Last Updated: 2012-02-24
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