Foreskin stenosis

When the foreskin is too tight to be pulled back over the glans of the member, this is called foreskin stenosis. The medical term for this is phimosis. In babies and young children, this condition is normal, but in older children, foreskin tightness can be the result of a skin condition that has led to scarring. The foreskin of most uncircumcised boys cannot be retracted at the beginning because it is still attached to the glans. This is completely natural and healthy for the first two to six years. However, around the age of two, the foreskin should start to come off the glans naturally. For some boys, it may take longer for the foreskin to come off. You should never try to force the child's foreskin back before it is ready, as this can be painful and damage the foreskin. Phimosis does not necessarily need to be treated unless it causes symptoms such as redness, pain or swelling. Narrowing of the foreskin can be caused by various skin diseases, even in adults. Similarly, urine can irritate the glans if it remains under the foreskin for a long time. In adults, phimosis can also occasionally be associated with sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as fungal or bacterial infections. In general, foreskin tightness can lead to pain, torn skin or lack of sensation during sex. In this case, the use of a condom and lubricants during sexual intercourse can protect the penis.

As a rule, phimosis is not a problem as long as it does not cause any symptoms. Immediate medical help is needed, however, if the narrowing of the foreskin leads to serious problems, such as difficulty urinating. Surgical removal of part or all of the foreskin (called circumcision) may then be necessary. Because circumcision has risks, it is only considered when other treatments (such as steroid cream) have failed. Risks include bleeding and infection. Therefore, although it can sometimes be the best and only treatment option, circumcision of the foreskin is usually only recommended as a last resort. Alternatively, surgery to release the adhesions (areas where the foreskin is stuck to the glans) may be an option. In this case, the foreskin remains intact, but a return of the problem cannot always be prevented. However, if the foreskin cannot be returned to its original position after retraction, this is called paraphimosis. This causes pain and swelling at the glans and requires emergency medical treatment to avoid serious complications. In difficult cases, it may be necessary for the doctor to make a small slit in the foreskin to relieve the pressure.

Hygiene and regular cleaning of the penis are very important to prevent such problems. Every day (e.g. when showering) the penis should be washed carefully with warm water. The foreskin (if present) should be gently pulled back to wash the glans underneath. However, for babies or young boys, the foreskin should never be pulled back as this could be painful and cause damage. A mild or unscented soap is recommended to avoid skin irritation. The use of deodorants, baby powder or perfume on the penis is not advisable as they can cause skin irritation. By the way: Circumcised men should also clean their penis regularly with warm water and a mild soap.

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