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  • 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 also may occur in older boys and in men by not washing well under the foreskin. Scar tissue from injury may also cause phimosis. The foreskin may look swollen, red, and feel tender. You may also see pus in the area. This may mean there is an infection (in-fek-shun) and your child may need antibiotic (an-ti-bi-ah-tik) medicine. Your caregiver may also recommend circumcision (removal of part of the foreskin).


  • Medicines:
    • Always give your child's medicine as directed by the caregiver. If you feel it is not helping, call your caregiver. Do not quit giving it unless your caregiver tells you to.
    • Keep track of what medicines your child is taking and when he takes them. Bring a list of your child's medicines or the pill bottles when you see the caregiver(s). Learn why your child takes each medicine. Ask your caregiver for information about the medicines.
    • If your child is taking antibiotics (an-ti-bi-ah-tiks), give them until they are all gone even if he feels better.
    • You may need to put a steroid cream to help lessen redness, pain and swelling. Follow your caregiver's instructions closely. Do not use this medicine for any other reason. Ask your caregiver for the DrugNote on this medicine.
      • Before putting on cream, gently wash and dry the penis.
      • Put a thin layer on the penis. Rub it in gently. Wash your hands right after putting the medicine on the penis.
      • Do not put a bandage on unless your caregiver tells you to.
      • Do not put tight diapers or plastic pants on your child.
      • Keep sunlight away from this area until your child's caregiver says it is OK to be in sunlight.
  • Do not use force to try to push back the foreskin. This may cause scarring and make the condition worse.
  • Clean under the foreskin regularly if possible to keep this from happening again.
  • In uncircumcised babies, the foreskin is normally tight. It usually doesn't start to loosen enough to pull back until the baby is at least 18 months old. Until then, leave the foreskin alone. Later, you may gently pull back the foreskin during bathing to wash the penis.
  • A catheter (tube) may need to be put into the tip of the penis (urethra) and into the bladder. This will allow urine to be emptied from the body.
  • Circumcision (sir-cum-sih-shun) may need to be done. This removes part of the foreskin.


  • There is redness, swelling, blisters or drainage from the foreskin. These could be signs of infection or reactions to medicine.
  • Your child has pain when passing urine.


  • Your child has passed no urine in 24 hours.
  • Your child has a fever.

Learn more about Phimosis (Discharge Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.