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Phimosis (Latin name)

By Bjarne Lühr Hansen PhD, MD and Philipp Skafte-Holm MD, Mentor Institute

Phimosis is a common condition where the foreskin of the penis cannot be drawn back far enough for the head of the penis to appear. Only rarely are boys bothered and with far the most, the phimosis disappears before puberty. Only boys especially bothered should be offered treatment. The treatment consists of application of a crème on the penis or operation.

Phimosis means that the foreskin of the penis cannot be drawn back far enough for the head of the penis to appear. Many parent are anxious that it can become dangerous and uncomfortable for the boys but phimosis with children is not an illness and is mostly of a bother to the parents.

Phimosis is a common condition. At birth 95% of all boys’ foreskin cannot be drawn fully back. In the course of the first 3 years, most boys outgrow the condition and when they are ready for school, only around 8% still has phimosis.

Phimosis can – but does not necessarily – cause different nuisances. The most frequent nuisance is increased spreading of the jet of urine (bother the cleaner more than the boy) and inflammation under the foreskin. Inflammation under the foreskin appears as swelling, warmth, redness and soreness on the tip of the penis.

Phimosis should not be treated at any cost. Only children who are significantly bothered – and this is very few – should be offered treatment. The most significant reason for avoiding treatment is that phimosis only rarely causes any serious nuisances and that very frequently, the condition disappears by itself. If phimosis till puberty, it can lead to pain in connection with erection – in those cases, the illness should of course be treated.

Treatment of phimosis consists of balloon-peeing, application of crème or operation.

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The doctor can prescribe a corticosteroid-crème that is very effective. The crème is applied to the tip of the foreskin, every night for 4 weeks. Hereafter, most boys will be able to fully draw back their foreskin. There are no side effects from using corticosteroid-crème for 4 weeks.

What can you do?

The parents should not try to force the foreskin back. Instead the parents must teach the boy balloon-peeing. This means that the boy or the parents squeeze the foreskin with their fingers so that the urine expands the foreskin like a balloon. This loosens the tight foreskin and the condition disappears.

If inflammation under the foreskin arises, the parent must wash down the inside of the foreskin with a syringe. This should be done 2 times a day until the soreness and redness has gone.

Contact the doctor tomorrow

If the child has trouble urinating. If the child complains about pains when passing water. If the tip of the penis is warm, red, sore and swollen.

Contact the doctor immediately

This is never necessary.