Circumcision in Older Boys: What to Expect at Home

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Your Child's Recovery

Circumcision

After surgery, your child's penis may be painful, swollen, and bruised. In an older baby or child, there may be some blood coming from the wound edge. His penis may have petroleum jelly and gauze on it from surgery. If gauze is used, follow your doctor's directions about when to remove it. When you remove the gauze, first soak it in warm water, and then gently loosen it.

Your child may not sleep as well and may seem fussy while the circumcision site heals. Let him return to his normal activities when he seems ready or when your doctor says it is okay. This is usually in 2 or 3 days.

If your child wears diapers, use petroleum jelly with each diaper change, and fasten the diapers loosely. If your child wears underpants, check that his pants are not rubbing on his penis.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for your child to recover. But each child recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to help your child get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for your child at home?

Activity

  • Let your child rest in bed for a few days. Sleeping will help him recover.
  • Have your baby or toddler avoid doing any tumbling for a few days. Have your child avoid doing straddling activities, such as riding a tricycle or using a sit-on toy, for 3 to 4 weeks.
  • Do not let your child do intense exercise, such as sports, running, or physical education at school, for 4 to 6 weeks.
  • Your child may shower or have a sponge bath the day after surgery. Do not let him swim or have a bath for 5 to 7 days.
  • Your child should be able to go back to school or daycare in about 2 or 3 days.

Diet

  • Have your child drink plenty of fluids for the first 24 hours to avoid becoming dehydrated. Use clear fluids, such as water, apple juice, and Popsicles.
  • You may notice a change in your child's bowel habits right after surgery. This is common. If your child has not had a bowel movement after a couple of days, call your doctor or nurse call line.

Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when your child can restart his or her medicines. The doctor will also give you instructions about your child taking any new medicines.
  • Have your child take medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think your child is having a problem with his medicine.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, see that your child takes it as prescribed.
    • Talk to your doctor about over-the-counter medicine. Do not use naproxen (Aleve) without your doctor's okay. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 18. It has been linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • Do not give your child two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • If you think the pain medicine is making your child sick to his stomach:
    • Give him medicine after meals (unless your doctor has told you not to).
    • Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, be sure your child takes them as directed. Your child should not stop taking them just because he feels better. Your child needs to take the full course of antibiotics.

Incision care

  • Always wash your hands before touching the incision area.
  • Wash the area daily with warm water and pat it dry. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which can slow healing. You may cover the area with a gauze bandage if it weeps or rubs against clothing. Change the bandage every day.
  • Keep the area clean and dry.

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.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).
  • Your child has severe trouble breathing.

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

  • Your child has pain that does not get better after he takes pain medicine.
  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has loose stitches, or his incision comes open.
  • You find a spot of bleeding larger than a 5 centimetre circle from an incision.
  • Your child has signs of infection, such as red streaks or pus from his incision.
  • Your child's bruising is not getting better after 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Your child has not returned to normal activities after 3 to 5 days.

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?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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