What is it?

In a male who is not circumcised, the foreskin may be so tight that it can't be easily pulled back over the head of the penis. This is called phimosis (fim-o-sis). The foreskin is the fold of skin that covers the end of the penis. Phimosis is common in young boys (up to 4 years old). As long as the child can pass urine, no treatment is needed right away. This condition should improve by itself, as he gets older.


Phimosis may be caused by not washing well under the foreskin. Poor cleaning can cause infections. Scar tissue from injury may also cause phimosis.

Signs and Symptoms:

The foreskin may look swollen, red, and feel tender. You may also see pus in the area. This may mean there is an infection. Your child may not be able to pass urine because of the tight foreskin.


Do not use force to pull back the foreskin. Do not pull back the foreskin if the child is less than 18 months old. If your child is not able to pass urine, call your caregiver. If the foreskin is infected, your child may need to take antibiotic medicine. Circumcision (sir-kum-sih-shun) may need to be done to remove the foreskin.

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.

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