Circumcision in Infants: What to Expect at Home

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Your Child's Recovery

After circumcision, your baby's penis may look red and swollen. It may have petroleum jelly and gauze on it. The gauze will likely come off when your baby urinates. Follow your doctor's directions about whether to put clean gauze back on your baby's penis or to leave the gauze off. If you need to remove gauze from the penis, use warm water to soak the gauze and gently loosen it.

The doctor may have used a Plastibell device to do the circumcision. If so, your baby will have a plastic ring around the head of his penis. The ring should fall off by itself in 10 to 12 days.

A thin, yellow film may form over the area the day after the procedure. This is part of the normal healing process. It should go away in a few days.

Your baby may seem fussy while the area heals. It may hurt for your baby to urinate. This pain often gets better in 3 or 4 days. But it may last for up to 2 weeks.

Even though your baby's penis will likely start to feel better after 3 or 4 days, it may look worse. The penis often starts to look like it's getting better after about 7 to 10 days.

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 baby rest as much as possible. Sleeping will help him recover.
  • You can give your baby a sponge bath the day after surgery. Do not give him a bath for 5 to 7 days.

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.
  • Your doctor may recommend giving your baby acetaminophen (Tylenol) to help with pain after the procedure. Be safe with medicines. Give your child medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think your child is having a problem with his medicine.
  • 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.

Circumcision care

  • Always wash your hands before and after touching the circumcision area.
  • Gently wash your baby's penis with plain, warm water after each diaper change, and pat it dry. Do not use soap. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which can slow healing.
  • Do not try to remove the film that forms on the penis. The film will go away on its own.
  • Put plenty of petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline) on the circumcision area during each diaper change. This will prevent your baby's penis from sticking to the diaper while it heals.
  • Fasten your baby's diapers loosely so that there is less pressure on the penis while it heals.

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

  • Your baby has a fever over 38°C.
  • Your baby is extremely fussy or irritable, has a high-pitched cry, or refuses to eat.
  • Your baby does not have a wet diaper within 12 hours after the circumcision.
  • You find a spot of bleeding larger than a 5-centimetre circle from the incision.
  • Your baby has signs of infection. Signs may include severe swelling; redness; a red streak on the shaft of the penis; or a thick, yellow discharge.

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

  • A Plastibell device was used for the circumcision and the ring has not fallen off after 10 to 12 days.

Where can you learn more?

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

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