What are the signs of foreskin problems?

The foreskin is the sheath of skin that covers the penis. The penis is an external structure of the male reproductive system that is composed of multiple parts. These include the root, which connects the penis to the abdominal wall, the body (shaft), the glans penis (head), and the urethra (a tube that transports semen and urine out of the body).

Additionally, the penis contains muscles, nerves, blood vessels, and the penile suspensory ligament, which supports the penis when it is erect. Within the penis are three chambers made of spongy tissue that fill with blood and expand during sexual arousal, resulting in an erection. The foreskin’s loose folds of skin retract automatically when the penis is erect. The foreskin can also be retracted manually for urination or examination of the penis.

Many parents of infant boys have the foreskin surgically removed shortly after birth in a procedure called circumcision. However, circumcision rates in the United States are dropping, increasing the incidence of intact foreskins. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), circumcision incidence declined from 56% in 2006 to 32.5% in 2009 (Source: CDC). The World Health Organization reports that an estimated 30% of men globally are circumcised (Source: WHO).

  • Foreskin symptoms include:

  • Bleeding from the top or underside of the foreskin

  • Blisters, sores or ulcers

  • Burning feeling from the foreskin

  • Inability to pull back or retract the foreskin to reveal the penile head

  • Inability to return a retracted foreskin to cover the penile head

  • Pain

  • Redness or other discoloration

  • Smegma (thick secretion that builds up under the foreskin)

  • Swelling

  • Tear or other perforation

  • Warts

  • White spots or patches

Depending on the underlying cause, foreskin symptoms may begin suddenly and last briefly or develop gradually and persist. Foreskin symptoms can range from mild and passing to very painful. They can be due to a variety of diseases, disorders and conditions, such as allergy, injury, cancer and infection, including certain sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Untreated serious foreskin symptoms can lead to damage to the foreskin and penile head, which can, in turn, prevent a man from having an erection and affect a man’s sexual health and fertility. Foreskin symptoms can also disrupt urination, which can damage related organs, such as the bladder and kidneys.

Foreskin symptoms can be a sign of serious and even life-threatening conditions, such STDs and penile cancer. Seek prompt medical care if you have foreskin symptoms that are unexplained, persist, or cause you concern.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have enlargement or swelling of the head of the penis with a tight, constricting band of foreskin tissue below the head. This might be a condition called paraphimosis, which can lead to gangrene and loss of the penis tip if it is not quickly treated. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have bloody urine or an inability to urinate, which could signal a urinary blockage.


What other symptoms might occur with foreskin symptoms?

Foreskin symptoms may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Foreskin symptoms may originate in the foreskin itself or may occur due to conditions in the general genital area.

Other symptoms occurring with foreskin symptoms

Additional symptoms that may occur along with foreskin symptoms include:


What causes foreskin symptoms?

Foreskin symptoms can be caused by a variety of diseases and conditions, such as an allergic reaction, irritation, or an infection, such as a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Foreskin symptoms can also be caused by injury or trauma due to surgery, an accident, or sexual activity.

Many foreskin symptoms can be prevented by practicing proper hygiene, using hypoallergenic soaps on... Read more about foreskin symptomscauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 23, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Male Reproductive System