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Priapism in Children


Priapism is when your child has an erection that lasts 4 hours or longer. The erection may occur without stimulation. Your child's penis may be dark red or purplish. Priapism is usually painful and can lead to permanent tissue damage.



  • Medicines may be given to decrease pain and swelling or to regulate your child's hormone levels.
  • Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him or her if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Prevent priapism in your child:

  • Make sure your child sees his healthcare provider for regular checkups. If your child has a medical condition, such as sickle cell disease, make sure he follows his treatment plan.
  • Talk with your child about the dangers of alcohol and drugs. Talk with your child's healthcare provider if your child drinks alcohol or takes drugs and needs help to stop.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

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

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your child has an erection for more than 4 hours.
  • Your child has a painful erection that happens over and over.

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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.

Learn more about Priapism in Children (Aftercare Instructions)

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Further information

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