What is Phimosis?

Phimosis is a condition that occurs when the foreskin becomes too tight to be retracted (pulled back) from the point of the penis, called the glans. This is a frequent problem in uncircumcised boys, and most will get rid of it by the age of 3.

A tight foreskin can hinder your ability to pass urine correctly and could lead to infections. It can also make it difficult to have sex. The treatment for phimosis is daily hygiene such as cleaning and drying your penis after urinating, and applying topical creams and ointments.

Signs and symptoms

Phimosis is a condition that causes the inability to retract the skin over the glans penis, which could be physiologic or congenital. It may also be caused by scarring resulting from infection or inflammation.

If you notice that your child’s skin has a swelling or soreness, or if there is blood or a thick, swollen discharge under the skin, or if it smells unpleasant it is recommended to consult an expert. If phimosis isn’t treated it can cause other conditions like paraphimosis (when the foreskin becomes stuck behind the penis’s head which causes circulation to become cut off) or infection.

Physiologic phimosis is usually an auto-limiting condition that disappears when the foreskin becomes more retractile. It is typically seen in boys aged between 2 and 4. The most common reason for this condition is balanitisxeroticaobliterans (BXO), an inflammatory, skin condition that histologically resembles lichen-sclerosis. The treatment usually involves the use of steroid cream as well as gentle manual retractions.


Phimosis, also known as a narrowing of the foreskin that prevents it being pulled back above the penis (glans) is known as a Phimosis. This narrowing is usually caused by normal adhesions that gradually self-resolve, but scarring can cause phimosis with persistent narrowing.

Your healthcare provider will diagnose the condition during a physical examination. They may also recommend tests such as the swab test and penis discharge tests or urine to determine what is the reason for the problem.

In infants and toddlers, phimosis is often benign, and it typically improves naturally as your child grows older. If your child is experiencing symptoms, it is recommended to take them to their GP. They may be able recommend a treatment. In some instances an underlying skin condition or infection may cause phimosis paraphimosis. If this is the case, you might have to bring your child to hospital for treatment. You may be referred an urologist, who is a doctor who specializes in treating sexually-transmitted infections.


The condition is usually treated with the application of a cream that contains steroid topical. If this isn’t working, a surgical procedure to remove the foreskin could be needed.

It is essential that the foreskin loosens naturally between ages two and six. This is because it covers the tip of the penis, preventing bacteria from entering. If it doesn’t loosen or becomes too tight, then phimosis may be required.

In the majority of instances, phimosis will go away on its own. However, if it causes problems such as pain or difficulty in urination (peeing) A doctor might recommend treating it.

When the foreskin is pulled back behind the penis’s head to prevent it from being moved into its normal position, thereby covering the penis’s tip, paraphimosis may occur. This can result in swelling, pain, and the loss of blood supply to the tip of the penis.


Phimosis is a frequent condition that affects infants and toddlers. It typically decreases as the penile expands. By age three or four, a majority of boys can retract their foreskin.

However, the tightness of the foreskin can hinder normal penile function and hygiene, leading to irritated skin and inflammation, as well as scarring. In severe cases of phimosis, infections may occur in both the glans and the foreskin. This is called balanitis.

In the most extreme instances surgery could be required. In mild cases non-surgical treatments like topical steroids and gentle daily retraction may be effective.

The best way to avoid phimosis, however, is to practice good personal hygiene. This includes cleaning the genital area regularly, and gently retracting the foreskin when urinating or bathing. This keeps the foreskin smooth and free. This will help prevent the formation and other complications of scar tissue.