Foreskin Care

How do I care for my child's foreskin?

The foreskin is the fold of skin that covers the tip of your child's penis. At birth, the foreskin sticks to the tip of the penis and cannot be pulled back. It should separate naturally and pull back from the tip of the penis when your child is about 3 years old.

  • Bathe your child every day: Wash the outside of your child's penis with soap and water every day. Use only gentle soap.

  • Do not force the foreskin to pull back: This may cause pain and lead to scarring.

  • Clean under the foreskin once it has separated: Once the foreskin has separated from the tip of the penis, gently pull it back and wash this area with soap and water. Rinse the soap off and gently push back your child's foreskin to cover the tip of his penis.

  • Teach your child how to bathe himself: When your child is old enough, teach him how to clean the area by himself. Tell him to let you know if he feels any itchiness or pain.

What problems can occur with the foreskin?

  • Infection: Your child's foreskin may look swollen and red, and feel painful to the touch. This may be caused by pulling the foreskin back before it has separated. It may also be caused by not cleaning under the foreskin. This can cause dead skin cells, called smegma, to build up and lead to infection.

  • Phimosis: The foreskin is tight and cannot be pulled back over the tip of the penis.

  • Trauma: This may be caused by pulling the foreskin back before it has separated. Your child may have pain, cracking, and bleeding. In time, a scar may form and cause the foreskin to stick to the tip of the penis.

When should I contact my child's caregiver?

Contact your child's caregiver if:

  • Your child has a fever.

  • Your child has yellow discharge coming from his foreskin.

  • Your child's foreskin looks red and swollen, or is painful when touched.

  • Your child has pain while urinating.

  • Your child urinates more frequently and in smaller amounts.

  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care?

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • Your child's foreskin is stuck behind the tip of the penis.

  • Your child's foreskin or penis swells up and his urine only comes out in drops.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2013 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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