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Newborns > Care of the Uncircumcised Penis

Care of the Uncircumcised Penis

At birth the foreskin is attached to the head of the penis, also called the glans. As infants or children grow, they occasionally have erections, which eventually helps the foreskin come away from the glans. This separation may take months or years.

Most often the foreskin is retractile by 5 years of age, but some boys do not have retractable foreskin until adolescence. This is normal and does not require treatment. DO NOT forcefully retract the foreskin.

Throughout life, cells between the glans and foreskin need to be discarded. They form into smegma, which looks like a cheesy white substance and you may see this coming out of the tip of the foreskin. This is normal.

When the foreskin is attached to the glans, no special cleaning or care is required. In general: leave it alone! Your provider will check to see if the foreskin retracts at well visits.

When the foreskin is retractable, pull back on the foreskin to expose the glans (head of the penis) during bathing. Gently clean the glans. It is very important to pull the foreskin back up to cover the glans. If left in the pulled back position, it might swell and become stuck. This is very painful!

As your child enters the preschool years, teach him to clean his own penis. This is very important because improper cleaning can lead to infection risks.

In summary, initially less is more: leave it alone! As the foreskin retracts, daily cleaning is important. Be sure to replace the retracted foreskin after each cleaning. Teach proper penis care as your child grows.

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