Phimosis is the medical term for a condition in which the foreskin is too tight to be pulled back from the head of the penis. It's a common condition among uncircumcised children, usually resolving on its own by the age of 2 to 6. However, the University of California, San Francisco Department of Urology reports that approximately 1 percent of 7th-grade boys still have phimosis.
Though it's usually benign and requires no treatment, phimosis can sometimes lead to complications like pain during urination, balanoposthitis, an inflammation of the foreskin and glans, and urinary tract infections. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the problem.
What Causes Phimosis?
Phimosis can be congenital or acquired.
- Congenital phimosis. A symptom labeled as congenital means that a child was born with it. All males are born with phimosis, but it generally resolves on its own. When it doesn't, it results in an overly tight foreskin that can't be retracted.
- Acquired phimosis. On the other hand, acquired phimosis typically develops due to inflammation or scarring of the foreskin from an infection, trauma, or other irritants later in life. Balanitis, an inflammation of the glans, and lichen sclerosis, a chronic skin condition, are two common causes of acquired phimosis.
What Are Treatment Options for Phimosis?
The treatment for phimosis will depend on the underlying cause and the severity of the symptoms. If phimosis is congenital and asymptomatic, there's no need to do anything except monitor for any future problems. No treatment or phimosis cure is necessary as congenital phimosis typically resolves on its own.
However, if phimosis is causing pain or difficulty urinating, action is required, including:
- Medication. Topical steroids may be prescribed in an effort to reduce inflammation and help the foreskin retract.
- Phimosis foreskin stretching. A procedure called phimosis foreskin stretching may also be recommended to help stretch the foreskin and reduce associated symptoms. This technique involves gently pulling the foreskin forward over a period of several weeks to months in an attempt to retract it, using either your hands or tape for assistance.
- Circumcision. If these conservative measures fail, circumcision may be recommended. This surgical procedure involves the removal of the foreskin. In most cases, it can be done on an outpatient basis using local anesthesia.
If you are experiencing complications due to phimosis, talk with your doctor about your phimosis cure options. With proper care and treatment, you can manage the pain and resolve your phimosis.