Paraphimosis in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Paraphimosis (say "pair-uh-fy-MOH-suss") is a problem with the skin on your child's penis. The skin that folds over the penis (foreskin) gets tight and sticks behind the head of the penis. The skin can't return to its normal place over the head of the penis.

This only happens in boys who still have all or part of their foreskin.

This problem needs to be treated right away. If it's not treated, the penis will swell. Blood to the head of the penis may be cut off. This can damage the penis. And it can be very painful.

Your doctor probably reduced the swelling and put the foreskin in its normal place. Your doctor may have done surgery if the problem was severe.

Your doctor may suggest that your child be circumcised. This can prevent the problem from happening again.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Give pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If the doctor used surgery, follow the directions you are given.


  • Do not force your son's foreskin back when washing his penis. Use warm water. Only wash the outside of his penis until you can pull the foreskin back. A baby's foreskin does not pull back easily for about 6 months. You can usually pull the foreskin back by the time a boy is 5 years old. Some boys' foreskins cannot be pulled all the way back until between 10 and 17 years of age.
  • When you're able to pull the foreskin back, do so gently. Pull it back only as far as it will go. Carefully wash the entire area with warm water. After washing, return the foreskin to its normal position.
  • Teach your child how to pull back the foreskin and return it to its normal position. A boy as young as 3 can be taught to do this.
  • 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.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • The foreskin is stuck behind the head of your son's penis.
  • Your child has symptoms of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if your child has any problems.

Where can you learn more?

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