A lot of parents especially those who have only been exposed to a circumcised penis, worry a lot about the foreskin of their babies. The foreskin is the loose skin that covers and protects the end of the penis. Peter Metcalfe a paediatric urologist at Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton says that in his practice he sees a lot of parents who worry about properly managing and cleaning of the foreskin of their kids. Some of the main issues that parents face are how to take care of the penis, when will the foreskin start retracting, how to clean and in the end as the child grows how to teach him to clean it properly.
New parents would do well to remember that taking care of baby boy’s foreskin is straightforward and if you take little care chances of infection are extremely rare. Many doctors call it a low-maintenance little organ that just needs to be cleaned twice a day with water.
Still, it is expected that as new parents of a precious baby boy, you may be worried about the proper care procedure and have many questions. In this article, we will discuss some of the most common questions asked by the parents about the uncircumcised penis
What is the best way of taking care of the uncircumcised penis of a baby?
According to doctors, the parents need to stop worrying about their baby’s uncircumcised penis and leave it alone at least during the early months. Gentle wash with soap and water while giving him a bath is more than enough. There is no need to clean inside the foreskin in young boys. Just be careful to wash off any soap properly. As per paediatrics, cleansing of the penis with cotton swabs or antiseptics is not necessary. However it is advised that you watch your baby urinate occasionally to make sure that the hole in the foreskin is large enough to permit a normal stream of urine.
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At what age will the foreskin retract/pull back?
During the ages between 2 and 5, the connective tissue that holds the foreskin and the head of the penis will start to disappear. This will allow the foreskin to open widely. In most of the cases, by the age of 5, the boys are able to pull back the foreskin. However, the full retraction may take until puberty or even more time in rare cases.
Parents need to understand that if they find it hard to pull back the skin that means it is not ready yet. It is better to leave it alone. However if you are worried about any symptoms or see a changed appearance including redness, swelling etc you must talk to your doctor and get an examination done.
Once his foreskin pulls back, what’s the best way to clean the penis?
Once the foreskin starts to pull back, you can talk to your child about it but it is better to wait till the time he starts to take care of his hygiene on his own like cleaning the back of the ears etc. Tell him about cleaning the smegma (dead skin etc.) from under the skin. If there is a lot of smegma, a mild soap can help. Till the time he starts to learn about hygiene, just splashes of water during his bath will be enough. Once your son can pull back his foreskin, you can guide him about pulling back his foreskin and washing. All he will need to do is :
- Gently slip the foreskin back.
- Rinse the head of the penis and the inside fold of the foreskin with warm water.
- Slip the foreskin back in place over the head of the penis. Ensure to rise off any soap.
What can cause infection?
Generally, toddlers get skin rash that may look like an infected skin on penis and foreskin as it’s inflamed. In most of the cases this is just chafed skin which can easily be cured with petroleum jelly. If it is an infection, it is mainly caused by an abrasion or break in the skin that may be caused by vigorous cleaning by parents or forcing the foreskin to retract. Infection can be caused in abrasion and chafed skin but it too rare. In the boys who are getting potty training, it can also be caused by smegma build-up which attracts bacteria. The penis infection is still uncommon and if it happens in which case the penis becomes red, swollen and tender, you should see a doctor.
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Should I worry that my kid’s foreskin hasn’t retracted?
As per Paediatrics, by the age of 5 85 to 90 percent boys will be able to pull back their foreskin, though full retraction can take until puberty or later in some cases. However, if you feel that the foreskin is very tight and does not allow proper retraction consult a doctor. The doctor may prescribe an ointment to ease the situation but if the problem persists, a more definitive action of getting delayed circumcision can be decided upon.
Should I worry about the health of kid if the foreskin does not retract?
As a parent, you should stop worrying about the penis of your child as it will only create unnecessary problems between you and the kid. You should completely avoid forcefully trying to retract the skin which can cause severe infection. Whatever the reason is, you should only concentrate on keeping it clean and let the course of time take the required action when necessary.
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What are the symptoms of infection in boy’s penis?
Not sure if your boy’s foreskin is just irritated or needs medical attention? Call a doctor if genital tenderness is accompanied by one of the following symptoms:
If you are not sure about the irritation on the skin that if it is just a rash or need medical attention, you should check for the following symptoms and check with the doctor immediately if any of these accompany the irritation.
- Redness or swelling
- The foreskin retracting and becoming stuck behind the head of the penis
- Discharge or pus
- Pain when urinating
The foreskin of your kid takes a lot of time to retract completely and as a parent, the only thing you need to worry about is to keep the penis clean and teach your child about hygiene when the time comes.
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