Phimosis and paraphimosis are problems with the foreskin of the penis. Phimosis is when a foreskin can’t be pulled down (retracted) from the tip of the penis. This is a common problem in young boys. Paraphimosis is when the foreskin is retracted but can’t move back up. This can prevent normal blood flow in the penis, and may cause serious problems.
Phimosis is caused by a tightening of the opening of the foreskin. This condition is normal in a newborn baby. Over time the foreskin loosens and can be pulled down more easily. By age 17, most boys will be able to fully retract their foreskin. Phimosis can also occur if the foreskin is forced back before it is ready. This can cause a fibrous scar to form and can keep the foreskin from retracting in the future.
Paraphimosis is caused when the foreskin is retracted behind the crown (corona) of the penis and is too tight to be moved back to the tip of the penis.
Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child. The most common symptoms of phimosis include:
The most common symptoms of paraphimosis include:
The symptoms of phimosis and paraphimosis can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his health care provider for a diagnosis.
The health care provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. He or she will give your child a physical exam. The physical exam will include examining the penis and foreskin.
Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is. Treatment for repeated phimosis may include:
Treatment for paraphimosis may include:
Talk with your child’s health care providers about the risks, benefits and possible side effects of all treatments. Be sure to communicate and ask questions.
Possible complications can include:
Call the health care provider if your child has:
At Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., our pediatric urologists provide comprehensive care for disorders affecting reproductive and urinary organs.
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