What is phimosis?

Phimosis is a painful condition that makes it difficult to retract the foreskin of the penis. It occurs in boys and men who have not undergone circumcision (removal of the foreskin covering the tip of the penis). Tissue damage can occur if the foreskin is forcibly retracted. Phimosis is common in newborn males because the skin covering the tip of the penis is still tight and less pliable, and it is fairly normal for most babies and toddlers to have initial difficulties with retracting the foreskin. Phimosis typically resolves or improves on its own with age. Most boys can retract their foreskin completely by the age of three (Source: LPCH).

Another condition affecting the foreskin is called paraphimosis, in which repositioning of the foreskin to the unretracted position is not possible, and this limits or stops blood flow to the penis. It is a more serious condition because it affects blood supply and must be treated in an emergency setting.

If phimosis is not resolved by adolescence, circumcision may be necessary since the condition can cause pain or discomfort during urination and difficulty with sexual intercourse.

Phimosis is not typically associated with serious complications unless urination is not possible, but paraphimosis is an emergency. The inability to reposition or unretract the foreskin to its proper position is potentially dangerous because it can deprive the penis of blood flow. Seek immediate medical care if you or your child is unable to reposition the foreskin and experience symptoms of swelling, tightness and constriction, or the inability to urinate.


What are the symptoms of phimosis?

Symptoms of phimosis may vary in severity among affected individuals.

Common symptoms of phimosis

Common symptoms of phimosis include:

  • Bulging of the foreskin (especially during urination)
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Inability to pull back the foreskin
  • Pain
  • Swelling of the tip of the penis
  • ... Read more about phimosissymptoms


What causes phimosis?

The cause of phimosis is not known. It occurs in uncircumcised males and tends to occur in infants and toddlers. Phimosis typically improves and resolves itself with age.

What are the risk factors for phimosis?

Several factors increase the risk of developing phimosis. Not all boys and men with risk factors will get phimosis. Risk factors for phimosis include:

Read more about phimosiscauses


How is phimosis treated?

Boys and men who have suspected cases of phimosis with an inability to urinate or paraphimosis should be evaluated by a health care professional right away. Treatment is necessary to prevent discomfort and further injury. The overall health and age of children will factor into consideration of the treatment options.

Treatment for phimosis

Most cases of phimosis are typi... Read more about phimosistreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 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