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What is phimosis?

In normal conditions, the foreskin covers the penis’s head in a baby. By the age of 3, the foreskin starts to loosen from the penis’s head which allows the foreskin to retract easily. The condition of phimosis can be explained as the inability of the foreskin to retract i.e slide back over the penis. 

Phimosis is a condition that occurs in babies and toddlers. The reason being that the glans and foreskin remain intact in the initial years of life. Thus, phimosis is a common condition that occurs more in boys than men. 

The process of detachment starts between 2 and 6 years of age. But in some boys, the detachment the foreskin occurs around the age of 10 years. 

Does that mean phimosis doesn’t occur in adults? No, this is not the case. Around one percent of teenagers between 16 and 18 tend to suffer from phimosis. (Also Read: Does Phimosis Cause Trouble In Masturbating? )

There are two different types of phimosis that generally occurs in children-

  • Physiological phimosis- This is the type of phimosis that occurs naturally since birth. Hence, the name. The symptoms are most visible around three years of age.This includes the inability to retract the foreskin while cleaning/bathing or the foreskin getting inflated while urinating. Physiological phimosis is not a major concern until it causes swelling and soreness. Children usually suffer from this type of phimosis which gets cured on its own as the foreskin slowly detaches from the glans over time.
  • Pathological phimosis- This type of phimosis develops at the time of puberty when boys reach the age of twelve. The main causes of pathological phimosis are lack of hygiene, continuous swelling of the foreskin and penis glans or scarring of the foreskin.

    Symptoms of pathological phimosis are-

-Foreskin blocks the penis glans

-Pain while erections


Balanitis, inflammation of the penis glans

-Repeated urinary tract infections

-Difficulty while urinating or weak flow of urine  

Also Read: Tight foreskin problem in men: Causes, Treatment and Recovery

How do I know that my child is suffering from phimosis?

Identifying the initial symptoms of phimosis in children can be difficult. But children with phimosis often complain about redness, soreness or swelling. They even complain about having difficulty in urinating or emptying the bladder. Thus, you should take your child to a specialist when he complains of any such urological issues. The doctor will recommend the best-suited treatment depending upon the seriousness of the symptoms.

Let’s gain an insight into the medical conditions that can cause phimosis in children. It will help you in understanding the importance of timely treatment for phimosis.  

What are the causes and risk factors of Phimosis?

Phimosis tends to get cured on its own. Although the biggest factor of phimosis in adults is sexually transmitted infections, in children the main cause is generally a skin condition such as-

  • Eczema – a chronic skin condition that makes the skin itchy, red, dry, and cracked
  • Psoriasis – a skin condition that makes the skin red, flaky and crusty
  • Lichen planus – a rash that develops in different parts of the body
  • Lichen sclerosus – a disease that causes scarring on the foreskin that can complicate the condition of phimosis. 

As a parent, always remember that leaving phimosis unattended can cause further health complications for your child. 

Balanitis is one such complicated condition that can arise from phimosis. There is a huge possibility that prolonged phimosis might aggravate to balanitis. Thus, children who suffer from balanitis as a complication caused by phimosis face the following symptoms-

  • Soreness
  • Urge to itch
  • Bad smell
  • Build up of thick fluid
  • Pain when you urinate 

Thus it becomes really necessary to the most effective for the child as soon as possible.

What is the treatment for Phimosis in Children?

Depending on the physiology of the child and the severity of phimosis, the treatment for phimosis is administered. The two types of treatment are-

Topical corticosteroid ointments for phimosis

The first approach towards the treatment of phimosis in kids is topical steroid ointment. These ointments work by softening the tight foreskin around the penis. Urologists usually prescribe the following corticosteroids ointments-

  • Hydrocortisone
  • Betamethasone
  • Triamcinolone 

To retract the foreskin over the penis, doctors recommend gently massaging the affected area twice a day for almost two months. This eventually cures the problem of phimosis in kids. Also, manual retraction during warm baths and urination can prevent the recurrence of phimosis. 


This is the removal of the foreskin surgically. This is the most widely used treatment that the urologist prescribes when all other treatments for phimosis fail. When compared with other traditional surgical procedure for circumcision, the laser is considered to be much safer because it is minimally invasive.  Also, the procedure of laser circumcision inflicts no pain and is entirely safe for any age group.  Laser circumcision offers fast and smooth recovery as it involves no cuts, stitches or wounds. The patient recovers fully within a week only.

laser circumcision

Doctor’s advice on phimosis in children

Phimosis is a painful condition that can interfere with a child’s day to day life. We, at Pristyn Care, provide circumcision for phimosis in both children and adults through laser treatment. As discussed earlier, this is painless surgical removal of the foreskin which offers several benefits such as-

  • Almost no bleeding
  • Faster recovery
  • Performed on an outpatient basis
  • Lower chances of getting a UTI
  • Lower risk of STDs
  • Reduced risk of phimosis and paraphimosis

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