Learning About How to Care for an Uncircumcised Penis

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What is the foreskin?

Natural and circumcised penises

Boys are born with a foreskin. This is a fold of skin that covers and protects the rounded tip of the penis. The foreskin provides sensation and lubricates the penis.

Some families choose to circumcise boys. This means that the foreskin is removed by surgery. Other families keep a boy's penis in its natural state.

A baby's foreskin can't be pulled back (retracted) over the head of the penis. But over the first few years of life, the foreskin gradually pulls back more easily. By the time a boy is 5 years old, his foreskin usually can be pulled all the way back. Some boys' foreskins cannot be pulled all the way back until they are 10 to 17 years old.

How do you care for an uncircumcised penis?

When the foreskin can be pulled back, the area needs to be cleaned every day. Until it can be pulled back, wash only the outside of the penis. Don't try to force the foreskin back.

Infants and young boys

  • A baby's foreskin does not pull back easily for about 6 months. Don't force it. Until you can pull the foreskin back, use warm water to wash the outside of the penis only. Pulling your son's foreskin back too early can damage it and cause scar tissue to form.
  • When you're able to pull the foreskin back, do so gently. Only pull it as far as it will go. Carefully wash the whole area with warm water. After washing, return the foreskin to its normal position.
  • Teach your child how to pull back the foreskin and wash his penis. A boy as young as 3 can be taught to do this.
  • If your son's foreskin can't be pulled all the way back by the time he reaches puberty, call your doctor or nurse call line for advice.
  • If you can't return the foreskin to its normal position, call your doctor or nurse call line right away.

Older boys and adults

  • Wash under the foreskin as noted above.
  • Always put the foreskin back to its normal position if it has been pulled back. This may happen during sex. Or you may pull it back before sex, before you urinate, or while you clean it.
  • Be sure the foreskin is in its normal position after any doctor examination or procedure. For example, the foreskin may be pulled back to use a catheter.
  • If you can't return your foreskin to its normal position, call your doctor or nurse call line right away.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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