How to clean an uncircumcised child’s penis

How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

Anita Sadaty, MD, is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist, resident instructor at Northwell Health, and founder of Redefining Health Medical.

How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

Karen Cilli is a fact checker on Verywell Mind, reviewing and researching articles to ensure their accuracy.

How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

Caring for an uncircumcised baby is the same as caring for infants who have been circumcised. Gentle, external cleaning during diaper changes and washing with soap and water during bath time are all that’s necessary.

It can be hard to sort through the confusing, conflicting, and incorrect information out there about how to care for an uncircumcised baby. Learning the correct way to care for an uncircumcised penis is not hard, but it is important.

Improper care can lead to a child needing a circumcision later in life, particularly if a parent or caregiver retracts the baby’s foreskin before it is ready.

Care for a Baby’s Penis During Diaper Changes

The first point to remember in caring for your child’s diaper area is to change their diaper frequently. Leaving urine or stool against your baby’s skin for any length of time can cause redness, inflammation, and diaper rash.

Each time you change your uncircumcised baby’s diaper:

  • Wipe the penis clean with warm water or wipes. Do not use Q-tips, special ointments, or creams unless diaper rash is present.
  • Don’t try to retract the foreskin unless it has naturally separated from the glans. Forcing back the foreskin, which is usually attached to the glans in infants, toddlers, and young children, can cause pain, bleeding, and tearing. The natural separation of the foreskin often takes months or years.

Don’t be alarmed by any whitish discharge you see coming from underneath the foreskin. This is called infant smegma and is completely normal. Skin cells from the foreskin shed naturally, gather underneath, and make their way out.

Smegma may be more noticeable when the foreskin begins to separate from the glans. Just gently wipe it away during a bath or diaper change.

Care for an Uncircumcised Penis During Baths

Caring for your child’s uncircumcised penis while you bathe them is similar to care during diaper changes. Simply wash it gently with warm water and mild soap, and don’t try to retract the foreskin.

Clean your baby’s uncircumcised penis as you would a finger (i.e., “only clean what is seen”). In other words, don’t try to retract the foreskin to clean underneath.

Although some parents may bathe their infant every day, it is actually not necessary for babies to have a daily bath. Every few days (about two or three times per week) is plenty. Daily baths can lead to dry skin in babies, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Signs of Infection

Though hygiene for an uncircumcised penis isn’t complicated, not keeping it clean can allow bacteria, fungus, or viruses to get trapped and grow in the moist environment between the glans and foreskin, which can lead to infection.

Forcing the foreskin back before it’s ready may cause a cut in the skin that can become infected, and in more severe cases, conditions like paraphimosis may develop.

What Is Paraphimosis?

Paraphimosis is a condition in which the foreskin gets stuck in the retracted position. This can happen when the foreskin is forced back from the glans. Paraphimosis may cause pain and swelling, and it is a medical emergency.

Watch for the following signs of infection in your uncircumcised child:

  • Fever
  • Pus coming out of the foreskin opening
  • Redness, swelling, or irritation at the tip of the penis
  • Urine coming out in only a trickle
  • Your baby seems to have discomfort while urinating

Any of these signs may indicate an infection or balanoposthitis (inflammation of the foreskin and glans).

Foreskin Retraction

The foreskin is attached to the head of the penis in most babies. As children get older, the foreskin begins to separate naturally from the head of the penis. In some babies, it may happen before they are born, though this is rare.

Most parents can expect this natural separation to occur within a few months, but it can take years, and this is also perfectly normal.

While most children will experience separation by age 5, know that for others it may not occur until adolescence.

Your child will most likely be the first to notice when this has happened. However, their pediatrician will also check at each appointment.

Once the foreskin retracts easily on its own, you can teach your child to clean the area. They can gently pull back the foreskin, clean underneath it with mild soap and water, rinse and dry the area, then put the foreskin back in place (don’t leave it retracted).

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you clean a baby boy who is uncircumcised?

Simply wipe the penis with a clean, damp cloth or wash with warm water and a mild soap. Do not try to pull the foreskin back unless it has separated from the glans on its own. Be sure to dry your baby’s diaper area thoroughly before replacing their diaper.

How do you tell if an uncircumcised baby has an infection?

Signs of infection include redness, swelling, pain on urination, or pus coming out of the opening of the foreskin. If you notice any of these signs, call your child’s pediatrician.

How do you reduce the risk of UTI in an uncircumcised baby?

Keeping your baby’s penis clean and dry and changing their diaper often are the best ways to avoid a urinary tract infection (UTI). Also, make sure your baby is getting is breast milk or infant formula and urinating often enough to produce at least six to eight wet diapers each day.

How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

In this Article

  • If They Are Circumcised
  • If They Are Uncircumcised

If it’s your first time caring for a baby boy, you might feel a bit unsure about the right way to care for their genitals. But don’t worry — it’s pretty straightforward. Here’s everything you need to know to keep the area clean and healthy.

If They Are Circumcised

If your son was circumcised, that means the loose skin covering the head of theirВ penis was removed and the tip exposed.

After the procedure, their care team covered their penis with petroleum jelly and wrapped it in gauze. Keep a covering on the area for the 48 hours following the procedure.

For the first couple of days after the surgery, your doctor may recommend keeping the area covered with a glob of petroleum jelly on a square gauze pad. Change the pad after poopy diapers to prevent an infection.

After a couple of days, once the area starts to heal, you can stop using the gauzeВ and just put some petroleum jelly on the tip. This will keep their healing penis from sticking to their diaper.

Change their diaper often, and use a mild soap and water to clean off any poop that gets on theirВ penis.

It’s normal for the tip of the penis to look red and appear to have a crusty white or yellow coating. That helps the area heal — don’t wipe it off.

Once the penis is healed, usually after 7-10 days, you can wash it with soap and water.

Problems are rare, but let your doctor know if:

  • Your baby doesn’t pee within 6-8 hours after the circumcision
  • The bleeding doesn’t stop
  • Redness gets worse after a few days
  • You notice swelling, crusted yellow sores or discharge from the penis.

Usually once the circumcision is healed, you don’t need to do anything special. Just keep the area clean and dry so your son stays healthy and comfortable.

If They Are Uncircumcised

If your baby wasn’t circumcised, meaning you chose not to remove the skin at the head of their penis, you don’t have to do any special cleaning. Just wipe the area during diaper changes and rinse with warm, soapy water at bath time.

The pediatrician will advise when to start gently pulling back the foreskin to clean under it. At this age, it’s fused to the head of the penis, and forcing it back can cause pain or bleeding. Your doctor will let you know when the skin has separated, which won’t happen until they are 3-5 years old. At that point, the foreskin will easily move back and forth, and you can teach your son to regularly wash the area underneath.

Show Sources

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “Newborn Circumcision.”

American Academy of Pediatrics: “Care for an Uncircumcised Penis,” “What Is Circumcision,” “Caring for Your Son’s Penis.”

Ari Brown, MD, pediatrician, American Academy of Pediatrics spokeswoman, Austin, TX.

How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

  • How to clean your baby’s penis
  • How and when the foreskin separates
  • Penis cleaning once the foreskin starts to separate
  • When to call the doctor

How to clean your baby’s penis

In the first few years of your son’s life, while the foreskin is still attached, you can simply clean the outside of his uncircumcised penis with ordinary soap and water at bath time, or with a wipe when you change his diaper.

Some experienced parents offer this advice to new moms and dads: Clean your baby’s penis as you would a finger and only “clean what is seen.” In other words, don’t try to clean under the foreskin, a fold of skin that covers the head of the penis.

In uncircumcised baby boys, the entire foreskin is attached to the head of the penis and can’t be pulled back (“retracted”). It usually remains that way for years before separating naturally. Forcing it to retract sooner can cause pain and bleeding, or even damage the penis and cause scarring.

How and when the foreskin separates

Eventually, the foreskin separates from the head of the penis, remaining attached only at the base of the head. At that point, it can be rolled back over the base to reveal the head.

This separation happens for about half of boys by age 5, but for some, it doesn’t happen until the teenage years. The foreskin may separate from the head gradually – over months or years – or within just a few weeks.

At well-child visits, your child’s doctor might check on the status of the separation by gently pulling back on the foreskin or asking your child to, if he’s old enough and willing. You can check it yourself once in a while during diaper changes, or ask your child to check it himself in the bath.

Penis cleaning once the foreskin starts to separate

Once the foreskin begins to separate from the head of the penis, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you or your child occasionally retract the foreskin and clean underneath.

Dead skin cells accumulate under the foreskin, creating a cheesy white substance called smegma. This is perfectly normal. But an occasional cleaning helps prevent infection and inflammation.

While your son is young, you may be the one to clean his penis for him at bath time: Gently pull the foreskin back as far as it will go and wash the head of the penis – as well as the inside of the foreskin – with soap and warm water. (Boys typically enjoy playing with their penis in the bath and are often happy to take on this task themselves.)

Rinse well and then gently pull the foreskin back over the head of the penis (or check that your son has done so). This step is important: If the foreskin isn’t moved back over the head, it can get stuck in the retracted position and require medical attention.

How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

When to call the doctor

Call your child’s doctor if:

  • You notice that urine is coming out in only a trickle.
  • The foreskin balloons out during urination.
  • The foreskin becomes red, itchy, or swollen.
  • The foreskin gets stuck in the retracted position.

Sources

BabyCenter’s editorial team is committed to providing the most helpful and trustworthy pregnancy and parenting information in the world. When creating and updating content, we rely on credible sources: respected health organizations, professional groups of doctors and other experts, and published studies in peer-reviewed journals. We believe you should always know the source of the information you’re seeing. Learn more about our editorial and medical review policies.

Division of Urology

The penis, the outer reproductive organ of the male, consists of two parts — the shaft and the head (called the glans). All boys are born with a foreskin, a layer of skin that covers the shaft and the glans. Some boys are circumcised, and the skin covering the glans is removed. Other boys are not circumcised, leaving skin that covers the tip of the penis.

In an uncircumcised boy, the foreskin will gradually begin to separate from the glans of the penis. As this occurs you may notice a white, cheesy material called smegma (consisting of skin cells that are shed throughout life) release between the layers of skin. You also may see white “pearls” develop under the fused layers of the foreskin and the glans. These are not signs of an infection or a cyst.

When the foreskin separates from the glans of the penis it can be pulled back (retracted) to expose the glans. Foreskin retraction may happen immediately after birth, or it may take several years. Some boys can retract their foreskin as early as age 5, but some may not be able to do this until their teenage years.

Retraction of the foreskin should not be forced. This may cause pain and bleeding and can lead to scarring and adhesions (where skin is stuck to skin).

As your son begins to toilet train, teach him how to retract his foreskin, this will get him used to this necessary step during urination. Eventually, the foreskin should be retracted far enough during urination to see the meatus (the hole where the urine comes from). This prevents urine from building up beneath the foreskin and possibly causing an infection.

As long as the foreskin doesn’t easily retract, only the outside needs to be cleaned. If the foreskin retracts a little, just clean the exposed area of the glans with water. Don’t use soap on this area, as it can irritate the skin. After cleaning, always gently pull the foreskin back over the glans of the penis.

As your child gets older and the foreskin has completely separated and retracts easily, begin to teach him to clean underneath it as he bathes. At puberty, your son should be taught the importance of cleaning beneath the foreskin as part of his daily hygiene routine.

When to call the doctor

If the foreskin becomes red, inflamed or painful, or if the hole where the urine comes from is narrowing and your child’s foreskin “balloons” when he urinates, notify your child’s doctor.

Barbara Poncelet, CRNP, is a certified pediatric nurse practitioner specializing in teen health.

How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

Jonathan Jassey, DO is a private pediatrician at Bellmore Merrick Medical and is board certified by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

Catherine Falls / Getty Images

With the rates of circumcision on the downturn, more parents are wondering about the meaning of being uncircumcised. An uncircumcised penis is the natural default state, present at birth, with the foreskin intact. Circumcision removes the foreskin and is performed for a variety of cultural reasons on newborns, and as a treatment for some conditions for older boys and men.

Often, once parents make the decision to not circumcise their baby boy, they’re unaware of what to do with their child’s uncircumcised penis. Parents—and their sons—often have heard confusing, conflicting, or just plain wrong information about how to care for the uncircumcised penis. Let’s set the record straight on what’s normal, what’s a problem, and what’s an emergency.

Uncircumcised Penis

When a male child is born, his penis still has a layer of skin protection over the head (glans). This layer is called the “foreskin” or “prepuce.” At birth, the foreskin is still attached to the head of the penis.

This is completely normal and does not mean there’s something wrong. As the boy gets older, the foreskin begins to separate naturally from the head of the penis (retract).

As the foreskin starts to retract, sometimes a white, cheesy material builds up under the foreskin. The material, called “smegma,” is made up of the skin cells that slough off during the separation process.

Sometimes smegma may develop into white pearl-like lumps. Though either can look like an infection or a cyst, they’re both completely normal.  

Foreskins Should Not Be Forced

Parents are often concerned that the foreskin isn’t separating fast enough, and they will make the mistake of pulling on it to “loosen” it from the head.

Never pull hard on the foreskin to separate it from the tip of the penis.

In addition to pain and bleeding, the trauma of pulling on the foreskin can cause a kind of scar tissue to form between the foreskin and the head of the penis. This scar tissue can interfere with normal and natural separation.

Basically, you’re creating a permanent problem by forcing the foreskin back, instead of letting nature take its course. The foreskin usually doesn’t completely separate from the head of the penis until the time puberty hits, although it sometimes happens in boys as young as 5 years old.

Uncircumcised Penis Care

The best advice for parents is to encourage your son to keep the outside of the penis clean. When it comes to cleansing the foreskin, the American Academy of Pediatrics says that an occasional retraction with cleansing beneath will do for boys who haven’t reached puberty.

There’s no need to do any special cleansing. Simply pull the foreskin back away from the end of the penis as far as is comfortable, wash the head of the penis and the inside fold of the foreskin and rinse well with water (soap can irritate the sensitive skin on the head of the penis).

Then pull the foreskin back over the penis. Once they start puberty, boys should clean beneath their foreskin as part of their daily routine.

When to Call the Doctor

If your son has hit puberty and the foreskin is still stuck to the head of the penis, it may be time to call your pediatrician or family healthcare provider. Your provider can prescribe a steroid cream that can speed up the process of separation. It’s a simple treatment that has good results.

If the foreskin looks red and/or swollen, or if it’s painful for your son to urinate, he may have an infection of the foreskin or a urinary tract infection. It’s important for a provider to treat this infection as it can get worse without treatment.

If the foreskin won’t retract at all, the foreskin may still be attached to the head of the penis, which can be normal depending on the child’s age. Additionally, the end of the foreskin can become too tight for it to come back over the head of the penis. These issues, called phimosis, can also be treated by your provider with a steroid cream or, if necessary, by circumcision depending upon the situation.

Paraphimosis is another problem that is an emergency. With paraphimosis, the foreskin has been pushed back over the head of the penis, but it becomes stuck behind the head so that it can’t be pulled back down over the glans.  

This can be quite painful, and the tight skin can begin to cut off normal blood flow to the head of the penis. If your son has this problem, it’s important for him to see a doctor right away.

If your doctor isn’t immediately available, a trip to the emergency room will be necessary. With some lubrication, a provider can help get the foreskin back over the head of the penis or sometimes an emergency circumcision is necessary.

The penis, the outer reproductive organ of the male, consists of 2 parts—the shaft and the glans. The glans is the tip of the penis, while the shaft is the main part of the penis. All boys are born with a foreskin, or a covering over the tip of the penis. Some boys are circumcised. This means that this covering of skin is removed. Other boys are not circumcised and may have skin that covers the tip of the penis. The decision to circumcise a baby boy may depend on many factors, including the parent’s preference, religion, and where the child is born.

In an uncircumcised boy, the foreskin will begin to separate from the glans, or the tip of the penis. This happens naturally while the male is an infant. This is called foreskin retraction. Foreskin retraction may happen immediately after birth, or it may take several years. Most foreskins can be fully retracted by the time the male is 18 years old. Retraction of the foreskin, or pulling the foreskin back from the tip of the penis, should not be forced. If the foreskin is forced to retract, it may result in bleeding and discomfort.

How to care for the uncircumcised penis

As an adolescent, the uncircumcised male should retract, or pull back, the foreskin and clean underneath it daily. It should be a part of his daily hygiene routine. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that the foreskin should be cleansed by following the steps below:

Gently, not forcefully, pull the foreskin away from the tip of the penis.

Rinse the tip of the penis and the inside part of the foreskin with soap and water.

Return the foreskin back over the tip of the penis.

Always talk with your adolescent’s healthcare provider for more information.

How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

If you have an uncircumcised son or if you’re looking for information on whats involved in caring for an uncircumcised boy, here is some great information from The Whole Network. Firstly is some information on what the foreskin really is (from the book ‘What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Circumcision’ by M.D. Paul M. Fleiss, D.Phil Frederick M. Hodges), followed by some great care tips.

What is the Foreskin (Prepuce)?

The foreskin – also known as the prepuce – is the flexible, double-layered sheath of specialised skin that covers and protects the glans (or head) of the normal penis. The foreskin is a uniquely specialised, sensitive, and functional organ of touch. No other part of the body serves the same purpose.

The foreskin is an integral and important part of the skin system of the penis. It is a complex and sophisticated structure with many interesting and unique properties. No other part of the body’s skin covering duplicates the amazing design and functional possibilities of the foreskin. Among the many interesting features of the foreskin is the fact that it is highly elastic, entirely devoid of any subcutaneous fat, and lined with a sheet of smooth muscle.

The foreskin is more than just skin; it is a complex, highly mobile, and beautifully engineered organ composed of an intricate web of blood vessels, muscle, and nerves. In fact, the foreskin contains about 240 feet of nerve fibers and tens of thousands of specialised erotogenic nerve endings of various types, which can feel the slightest pressure, the lightest touch, the smallest motion, the subtlest changes in temperature, and the finest gradations in texture.

Nature has designed the delicate glans (commonly called the head of the penis) to be an internal organ. In the normal, intact penis, the glans is a glistening, rich red or purple color. The foreskin protects the glans and keeps it in excellent condition.

In many ways, the foreskin is just like the eyelid. It covers, cleans, and protects the glans just as the eyelid covers, cleans, and protects the eye. Also, just as the eyelid can open and close to uncover the eye, so the foreskin can open to reveal the delicate glans. The foreskin’s inside fold is lined with a smooth red tissue called mucous membrane. This type of tissue is also found lining the lips, the inside of the mouth, and the inner fold of the eyelid. The foreskin’s soothing inner fold gently keeps the surface of the glans healthy, clean, shiny, warm, soft, moist, and sensitive.

Proper Care of The Intact Penis

The male foreskin is fused to the head of the penis at birth (just like the female foreskin – the clitoral hood – is normally fused to the glans of infant and young preadolescent girls). This is the body’s way of protecting the genitals against urine and feces. Because it is fused shut, bacteria and other foreign particles cannot invade.

It is absolutely unnecessary to forcibly retract the foreskin to clean under it, and in fact – this will cause bleeding, scarring, and damage to the penis. Pulling it back before it is ready can also introduce foreign bacteria which can lead to infection.

The first person to retract a boy’s foreskin should be the boy himself. Everyone else – hands off. The average age for this to happen is about 10 years old. About that time, the foreskin will start to become detached (although sometimes it is sooner, and sometimes it is later). Until about puberty, the body isn’t producing anything that needs to be ‘rinsed’. So if he gets especially dirty, sitting in a warm water bath (without soap) should take care of the cleaning. Once he can retract his own foreskin, he just needs to pull it back during a shower, rinse with warm water, and return it to the original position. No soap and no scrubbing under the foreskin.

If child has been forcefully retracted, the best thing to do is stop retracting and let it heal. Please click here to get more information on what to do now and how to clean. Putting a boy into the bath several times a day helps. The body, air, and water are the best healers. Of course, you must be vigilant about watching for infection beyond the initial inflammation for the first week following forcible retraction.

Improperly cleaning the foreskin of an uncircumcised baby might cause bleeding and pain. Here’s how to care for an uncircumcised newborn, and how to teach him proper hygiene techniques as he grows up.

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How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

Circumcision rates have been experiencing a steady decline in America. The procedure, which removes the foreskin to expose the tip of the penis, is currently conducted in about 58.3% of newborns, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is significantly lower than circumcision rates from 1979, when 64.5% of newborns were snipped.

The circumcision trend might be partly attributed to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ 2012 task force report, stating that even though circumcision has medical benefits, it’s not routinely recommended for newborns. It might also be due to the fact that fewer insurance companies are covering the procedure, according to Ronald Gray, M.D., a professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Deciding not to circumcise your son is a perfectly acceptable choice based on cultural, ethical, and religious standards. But those who opt against circumcision should understand how to safely and properly clean their son’s parts. Here’s how to care for an uncircumcised penis.

Uncircumcised Baby Care

When your son is first born, his foreskin is completely fused to his penis. The foreskin will retract later in life—usually by five years old, but sometimes not until puberty. Rarely, your son’s foreskin might begin retracting within days or weeks of birth.

Never forcefully push the foreskin back on the shaft, or else you might cause pain, bleeding, or tearing. Forcing the foreskin back is also unnecessary, since germs or dirt won’t accumulate where it’s still fused with the penis.

Wipe the penis and foreskin during diaper changes to keep it clean, says Vanessa Elliott, M.D., a urologist at UCP Urology of Central PA, Inc. And gently wash your baby’s genital area with soap and water while bathing him. You don’t need to do any special cleansing with cotton swabs or antiseptics, since these can cause irritation.

Call your doctor if the foreskin looks red, or if it appears painful and itchy for your child. This may indicate an infection or inflammation. Also let your M.D. know if urine is pooling inside of it, which may signal that you child’s foreskin is too tight.

Caring for a Penis With Retracted Foreskin

Shortly after your son’s foreskin starts retracting, you may notice small, white bumps underneath it called smegma. These cells once attached the foreskin to his penis and are now being shed.

When bathing your child, retract the foreskin gently from the head of the penis—but only as far as it will go without forcing it. Foreskin is thin and fragile so never pull it back more than it seems to want to go.

Once the foreskin fully retracts, boys should be taught how to wash underneath the foreskin every day. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that you teach your son to clean his foreskin by:

Latest update:

How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

Once you learned the trick to changing your newborn son’s diaper (keep the penis covered or risk a shower), you pretty much mastered the hardest part of caring for your son’s genitals. And even though your tot is older now (and his diaper area dirtier), keeping your toddler’s penis clean is still one of the simpler parts of his whole toddler grooming routine. In fact, it’s easier to clean a little boy’s penis than a toddler’s vagina, since there are fewer nooks and crannies to swab. Here’s a quick guide to keeping your toddler’s penis healthy:

Clean up during diaper changes. Of course you wipe your toddler’s bottom after each diaper change, but don’t forget to swab your toddler’s penis and underneath the scrotum to clean up any remaining bits of pee and poop. Choose unscented, alcohol-free varieties if your tot’s skin is sensitive. Then pat dry before applying diaper cream and putting on a fresh diaper.

And don’t stress if your little guy gets an erection when you’re cleaning down there — it’s just nature at work.

Use soap and water. In the bath, wash your toddler’s penis like you would any part of his body — with fragrance-free soap and water to avoid irritating his genitals (though urinary tract infections are uncommon in little boys). Rinse well with clean water and pat dry.

Don’t do anything special to an uncircumcised toddler penis. You don’t need to retract the foreskin to wash your child’s uncircumcised penis — and whatever you do, don’t force it back. Later on, when the foreskin naturally separates from the tip of your toddler’s penis (which could happen as early as age five), you can teach your tot how to clean beneath the foreskin, but for now washing his entire penis with soap and water will do. Is there cheesy-looking stuff under his foreskin? Don’t worry, it’s normal — it’s the residue from cells that the body sheds as the foreskin and glans begin to separate.

More Toddler Growth and Development

How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

Point out any strange stuff to the pediatrician. Problems with a toddler’s genitals are rare, but they can happen. Fortunately, they can usually be treated easily with minor surgery. Here are two of the more common genital problems to look out for in a little boy:

  • Undescended testicles. Sometimes one testicle (or, rarely, both) doesn’t descend into the scrotum by a boy’s first birthday. If your son has this condition and it hasn’t resolved on its own, he’ll need minor surgery between 12 and 15 months of age to move the undescended testicle into place. A “retractile” testicle plays hide-and-seek, descending into the scrotum but then disappearing again if it gets cold or overstimulated. This condition usually resolves itself after a boy hits puberty, without surgery or other treatment.
  • Meatal stenosis. Occasionally, the tip of a toddler penis can become so irritated that it develops scar tissue, blocking the flow of urine — or at least making it difficult for your boy to pee. Meatal stenosis tends to be more common in a circumcised penis, especially if it’s been exposed for a long time to wetness, harsh detergents, or even rough, scratchy fabrics (diapers or underwear). If you notice that your toddler has trouble peeing, or his urine stream seems narrow or dribbly (it should normally look like it could put out a fire), check with your pediatrician.
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs). Though uncommon in boys because of the layout down there, these can occur if bacteria gets into the urinary tract, which can make it difficult for a child to pee. Girls come down with UTIs more often than boys, and uncircumcised boys get them more often than circumcised ones. But if your tot has a fever and it hurts to pee, call his pediatrician.

From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.

How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

Dr Buwembo observes that there are healthy practices that men who are uncircumcised can adopt, more for health reasons of controlling infections. Courtesy photo

What you need to know:

  • Because of the prevalence of circumcision, there isn’t a lot of education around on how to take proper care of uncircumcised penises. If your foreskin is intact, here is what you need to know to keep it clean and healthy.

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The foreskin is a flap of skin that covers the head of the penis and attaches at the base of the head. Baby boys are born with the foreskin fully attached to their penis, but it gradually loosens as they age. By the time boys reach puberty, the foreskin can usually be retracted down to the base of the glans (the head of the penis) with ease. All men are born with a foreskin, but many undergo circumcision, where the foreskin is removed.

Circumcision is a surgical procedure that removes the foreskin, the loose tissue covering the glans on the rounded tip of the penis. The method is encouraged because it reduces the risk of some sexually transmitted diseases in men. It can protect them against penile cancer, inflammation of the internal glans, a condition called balanitis or foreskin glans or balanoposthitis.

However, circumcision is a choice and there are men who prefer not to get circumcised. Moses Mukudde says he has not found reason to go for circumcision because if his creator wanted him to be, he would have created him without the foreskin.

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“My partner has not complained about my foreskin because I always keep it clean. Every time I bathe, I pay extra attention to my penis. I draw back the foreskin and wash it thoroughly,” he explains. He adds that during his adolescent phase, he was not a fan of bathing and recalls drawing back his foreskin and seeing so much white stuff under the skin.

It was smelly and, for a moment, feared that he was sick so he confided in his brother during holidays. He advised him to wash his private parts well and assured him that all would be fine. From that day on, he has been keen on maintaining cleanliness.

Be gentle
Dr Dennis Buwembo, a public health specialist, says caring for the foreskin is very simple. “In childhood the foreskin is not completely separated from the head of the penis. This is normal and no forceful separation of the foreskin for cleaning purposes is warranted. Separation of the foreskin from head of the penis follows these steps on average,” he explains.

Dr Buwembo adds that by year one, only 40 per cent of boys have their foreskins completely separated from the head of the penis, by year four only 90 per cent of boys and by 15 years at least 99 per cent of boys. He warns any attempts to forcefully separate the foreskin from the head of the penis in young boys is unwarranted. He further explains that after the foreskin has completely separated from the head of the penis, it should be emphasised to boys that they can gently roll back the foreskin and clean it with soap and water as they do while cleaning the face.

Dr Vincent Karuhanga, a general physician at Poly Friends Clinic, points out that uncircumcised men who do not clean their penis well will develop a bad odour or smell. He adds that a man should make it a habit to clean the penis after sex because the fluids released during the act may be a breeding ground for bacteria. Instead of wiping it with a tissue, clean it with water as a way of keeping away bacteria.

Healthy practices
Dr Buwembo observes that there are healthy practices that men who are uncircumcised can adopt, more for health reasons of controlling infections. “One should engage in safe sex practices such as having one partner whose status for any sexually transmitted infections is known and use a condom consistently,” Dr Buwembo explains.

In an article in Daily Nation, Dr Torooti Mwirigi says cleanliness should not be a preserve of the foreskin but the general genital area, including the anus, which, if not attended to, will cause irritation in unwanted areas.

Dr Buwembo says for disease prevention, apart from safe sex practices, there is nothing much one can do because the foreskin is like a sleeve of a jacket with a delicate, easily bruised inner skin; which becomes exposed during a sexual act thereby leading to easy bruising.

“The outer skin is tough and not easily bruised but this becomes the inner part during sexual activity as the foreskin rolls backwards,” he adds. “Your member is a sensitive organ, a point that should always be kept in mind. For some odd reason, some men feel the need to vigorously scrub their units with powerful soaps or disinfectants to keep clean,” an article on askmen.com, a men’s website with health-related issues, reads.

The online platform adds, “Just lather up that mild soap and make sure to clean the base, shaft and head of your penis as well as your testicles. Uncircumcised men should slide the foreskin back and wash the head of the exposed penis with warm water, not soap. Then, be sure to dry the area very well.”

Foreskin care for children
The foreskin and penis of an infant or child need no special care. A child’s foreskin should never be pulled back (retracted) by force.

• During the first few years of life, the foreskin is stuck to the head of the penis by a membrane (called the synechia). This membrane or connective tissue dissolves naturally – a process that should never be hurried.

• The foreskin can be pulled back when its inside surface separates from the head of the penis, and the foreskin’s opening widens. This process happens naturally in childhood or during puberty and has usually happened by the age of 18. Even if the head of the penis and the foreskin separate naturally in infancy, the foreskin may still not be able to be pulled back because the opening in an infant’s foreskin may only be large enough for the passage of urine.

• When a young boy pulls at his foreskin, he usually pulls it outward. This is normal and natural and no cause for concern; he will not hurt himself.

• Once the foreskin is ready to be pulled back, your son will most probably discover this for himself. He should be the first person to pull back his foreskin.

• Telling your son about pulling back his foreskin beforehand will keep him from becoming alarmed the first time it happens.

Key points to remember
• The foreskin is the loose skin that covers and protects the end of the penis.
• The foreskin and penis of an infant or child need no special care.
• A child’s foreskin should never be pulled back (retracted) by force.
• There is no need to clean inside the foreskin in young boys – just wash their penis the same as any other part of your son’s body and be careful to wash off any soap.
• Once the foreskin is easily pulled back, your son should learn to do this as part of normal washing in the bath.
• Make sure he rinses off any soap and pulls the foreskin back over the head of the penis afterwards.

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How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

A lot of mums can be confused when it comes to caring for their son’s penis, so it’s important to know what to look out for, how to prevent issues occurring and when to seek help. Here are seven common penis problems explained.

7 common penis problems in little boys

  1. Injury
  2. Appears red
  3. Itchy or rash
  4. Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  5. Painful foreskin
  6. Stuck foreskin
  7. Penile adhesions

1. Injury

Most small boys are a bundle of energy constantly running around, riding scooters and bikes, jumping out of trees and anything else that involves excitement or potential danger. While normal, it does mean they’re often more prone to accidents, and that includes injuries to their penis. When it comes to the penis, often it may just get bruised and be a bit painful for a while. However, if it’s been crushed, cut or torn in any way, medical attention is required immediately (the same applies for the testicles and scrotum).

2. Appears red

Don’t be alarmed if your son’s penis looks quite red at the tip, this is usually the result of an irritation such as a nappy being left on for too long, rubbing from swimming shorts, or soap residue stuck in the foreskin. To prevent this, always be sure to rinse your son’s penis carefully (or show him how to do it, once old enough), change nappies regularly, or encourage them to wear undies under shorts and pants and change out of their swimmers (if toilet trained). Another cause of a red penis is balanitis, an infection which might also give them urination pain. Topical creams and warm baths can help with this, but it’s best to speak to your doctor first if you suspect it.

3. Itchy or a rash

If your son comes out in a rash on the penis, or complains of it being itchy and tries to scratch it more than usual it’s best to investigate. It could be anything from a tick or fleas, to a simple heat rash or irritation caused by body lotions, washing detergent or outdoor plants which might go away by itself or require you to use topical products. Little boys tend to not have the cleanest of hands, and once toilet trained they’ll be doing a lot of hand to penis contact, so try and encourage them to wash their hands regularly and see your doctor if the itch or rash doesn’t go away.

How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

4. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

UTIs are particularly common for uncircumcised little boys in their first year of life. This is because bacteria can get trapped under their foreskin which then spreads to the urinary tract. Signs that your son might have an infection include high fevers, irritability, pain when urinating, poor feeding and strong smelling urine. If you suspect a UTI you should speak to your doctor immediately, if left untreated (especially in very young infants) it can cause kidney damage. The good news is it can be treated effectively with antibiotics and it works very quickly.

5. Painful foreskin

The foreskin is the layer of skin covering the head of the penis and it’s attached from birth. Unless circumcised, the foreskin will separate and can then be pulled back and down the shaft. This usually happens by the age of two, although it can take longer, and for some boys it can cause a fair amount of pain until separated completely. Time usually resolves the issue, however if it’s particularly painful or uncomfortable, doctors may recommend your son do penile gymnastics (yes it’s an actual thing!), which is exactly what you think it is – pushing the foreskin down and up several times a day to loosen the foreskin (and usually we’re telling them to keep their hands off that area!).

The penis has 2 parts—the shaft and the glans. The shaft is the main part of the penis. The glans is the tip of the penis. All boys are born with a covering (foreskin) over the tip of the penis. Some boys are circumcised. This means that the foreskin is removed. Other boys are not circumcised and may have skin that covers the tip of the penis. The decision to circumcise a baby boy may depend on many factors. This includes the parents’ preference, religion, and where the child is born.

In an uncircumcised boy, the foreskin will begin to separate from the glans. This is called foreskin retraction. This happens naturally while the boy is a baby. Foreskin retraction may happen right after birth. Or it may take several years. Most foreskins can be fully retracted by the time a young man is 18 years old. Retracting or pulling back the foreskin from the tip of the penis should not be forced. If the foreskin is forced to retract, it may cause bleeding and mild pain.

How to care for the uncircumcised penis

An uncircumcised teen should retract or pull back the foreskin and clean underneath it daily. It should be a part of his daily hygiene routine. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that the foreskin should be cleaned by following the steps below:

Gently, not forcefully, pull the foreskin away from the tip of the penis.

Rinse the tip of the penis and the inside part of the foreskin with soap and water.

Return the foreskin back over the tip of the penis.

  • Before urinating, always pull the foreskin away from the tip of the penis and return it afterward.
  • Always talk with your teen’s healthcare provider for more information.

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    How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

    • How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis
    • How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis
    • How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

    How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

    How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

    The I Need to Know series by The Conversation answers commonly asked (and commonly embarrassing) teen questions providing practical information and advice.

    “Growing up, no one ever gave me the rundown on how or what I should do to keep my penis clean […] I’ve never read any reliable answer beyond washing it with water. Do I use soap? Any soap? How normal is smegma? If my penis gets itchy from smegma should I go see a doctor? If so, my GP or a urologist?” — Anonymous

    Key points

    • clean under the foreskin, using soap, but not too much
    • smegma is normal
    • if you have any concerns, see your GP.

    How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

    It’s a shame some people think talking about cleaning and caring for our genitals is embarrassing or taboo. We probably know more about hair care than penis care.

    The penis is simply another part of our anatomy, so cleaning should be relatively straight forward.

    If you’ve been circumcised, where your foreskin was removed soon after birth, your penis will look something like the one in the diagram (below, right), with the head (or glans) always exposed.

    But if you have a foreskin (below left and centre), there are some extra things to think about when washing, which we’ll get to soon.

    How to clean an uncircumcised child's penisThe Conversation , CC BY-ND

    Foreskin facts

    But first, some foreskin facts. From around the time you turn five, your foreskin separates from the head of your penis, bit by bit. This allows you to pull back your foreskin (retract it). In some boys, the foreskin can stay partially stuck to the head of the penis until puberty.

    You should never forcibly pull back your foreskin. That’ll be painful, you could bleed, you could scar, or have other complications.

    OK, now for the washing part

    Once your foreskin separates easily from the glans, gently retract and clean underneath the foreskin with each bath or shower. Then, after washing, pull the foreskin forward to its normal position.

    When it’s time to dry off, retract the foreskin again so you can dry the head of the penis with a towel. Then, you guessed it, pull the foreskin forward to its normal position.

    It’s OK to clean with soap whether you have a foreskin or not. But generally, too much soap is worse than none at all. Excessive cleaning removes essential body oils that would normally keep our skin moist and reduce friction. If you have sensitive skin, you can use a soap-free wash from the chemist.

    What about smegma?

    Smegma is a thick, whitish discharge consisting of a build-up of dead skin cells, oil and other fluids under the foreskin. And it’s very useful. It protects and lubricates the penis.

    Some people have oilier skin than others and tend to have more smegma. So some smegma is normal, but if you have too much or it becomes smelly, you may need to clean more.

    Things to watch out for (and when to see your GP)

    If the head of your penis becomes painful, red, itchy and has a discharge, you may have a treatable condition called balanitis.

    It’s more common if you have a foreskin. And the bacteria and fungus that cause it like the warm and moist conditions under there.

    Skin disorders, infection, poor hygiene, friction from sexual activity, and using too much soap all cause the condition.

    You can clear a mild case with good hygiene and simple treatments, such as an antiseptic or antifungal cream. You can buy these from any pharmacy. In addition to the medication, the cream itself helps protect and moisturise the inflammed skin.

    If you have balanitis you may need to be more careful than usual to avoid urine irritating your inflamed skin. Retract your foreskin when you urinate. Dry the head of the penis gently after you finish.

    If your penis is still inflamed after a week of these simple measures it’s best to see your GP. They can then investigate other causes, such as psoriasis or an allergy.

    I Need to Know is our series for teens in search of reliable, confidential advice about life’s tricky questions. Here are some questions we’ve already answered. How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

    This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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    Answer Section

    A fold of skin (foreskin) covers the head of an uncircumcised penis. If your baby isn’t circumcised, simply wash the penis with nonirritating soap and water during each bath. There’s no need to use cotton swabs or special cleansers.

    At birth, the foreskin of most male babies doesn’t yet pull back (retract) fully. Treat the foreskin gently, being careful not to force it back. Forcing it could cause pain, tearing and bleeding.

    Consult a health care provider if your baby seems to have discomfort while urinating — especially if the foreskin fills with urine or balloons out during urination — or the foreskin becomes red, itchy or swollen.

    As your child gets older, the foreskin of the uncircumcised penis will begin to separate from the tip of the penis. This process, which may take several months or years, allows the foreskin to be retracted.

    As soon as the foreskin can be retracted, it’s important to clean beneath it regularly. Teach your child to:

    • Gently pull back the foreskin
    • Clean beneath the foreskin with mild soap and water
    • Rinse beneath the foreskin thoroughly
    • Pull the foreskin back over the head of the penis

    Once the foreskin can be retracted, it’s important to pull it back over the head of the penis after cleaning beneath it. If the foreskin is left behind the head of the penis too long, it may get caught and you or your child may not be able to return it to its typical position (paraphimosis). If this occurs, it’s important to seek emergency medical care. Paraphimosis can cause pain and swelling, and it may lead to complications if left untreated.

    Encourage your child to follow the same procedure through adulthood as part of a daily bathing routine.

    © 1998-2022 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved.
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    Affiliations

    • 1 Division of Urology, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Chicago, IL USA.
    • 2 Division of Urology, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Chicago, IL USA. Electronic address: [email protected]
    • PMID: 30554610
    • DOI: 10.1016/j.jpurol.2018.05.024
    • Search in PubMed
    • Search in NLM Catalog
    • Add to Search

    Authors

    Affiliations

    • 1 Division of Urology, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Chicago, IL USA.
    • 2 Division of Urology, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Chicago, IL USA. Electronic address: [email protected]
    • PMID: 30554610
    • DOI: 10.1016/j.jpurol.2018.05.024

    Abstract

    Background: Parents of uncircumcised boys often report confusion regarding the proper care and hygiene practices for the uncircumcised penis. The lack of guidance from healthcare providers may be due to a lack of consensus on the proper care of the prepuce.

    Objective: The aim of this study was to determine whether or not there exists consensus among pediatric urologists on the care of the uncircumcised penis and on the advice they provide to parents.

    Methods: An electronic survey was delivered to 514 members of the Society for Pediatric Urology (SPU). The survey contained demographical and clinical questions which were analyzed using descriptive statistics.

    Results: Of 261 SPU members who opened the e-mail invitation, a total of 204 responses were received for a response rate of 78% (overall response rate 40%). Nine responses were excluded for members practicing outside of the United States or whose locations were not disclosed for a final number of responses of 195. Overall, pediatric urologists reported a high level of confidence in providing advice to parents with a median confidence score of 10 (scale 1-10, IQR 9-10). Only 66% reported providing advice to parents on when to begin retracting the foreskin, with 48% basing their advice on the patient’s age and 19% on the patient’s toilet training status (Figure). Respondents who based their advice on age, advised beginning retraction at 2-5 years (61%), 6-11 years (17%), less than 2 years (12%), and greater than 12 years (10%). For frequency of retraction before toilet training, 50% recommended no retraction, 25% with cleaning or baths, 10% with each diaper change, and 13% provided no advice. After toilet training, 48% of respondents recommended retracting the foreskin with cleaning or baths, 41% with each void, and 19% recommended no retraction. The majority of respondents agreed that problems with voiding (77%), infection (74%), and hygiene (64%) were indications for treatment of phimosis. In asymptomatic cases, 47% believed that phimosis required treatment if persisting beyond a specific age, the most common being greater than 12 years of age (40%).

    Conclusions: Although pediatric urologists reported being highly confident in advising parents on the care of the uncircumcised penis, there is not a clear consensus among these subspecialists on when to begin and how often to retract the foreskin, or when phimosis requires treatment. These findings offer insight into current practice patterns to better inform primary care providers and parents.

    Keywords: Foreskin; Penis; Survey.

    Author

    Senior Lecturer in General Practice, The University of Queensland

    Disclosure statement

    David King does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

    Partners

    University of Queensland provides funding as a member of The Conversation AU.

    Growing up, no one ever gave me the rundown on how or what I should do to keep my penis clean […] I’ve never read any reliable answer beyond washing it with water. Do I use soap? Any soap? How normal is smegma? If my penis gets itchy from smegma should I go see a doctor? If so, my GP or a urologist? — Anonymous

    Key points

    • clean under the foreskin, using soap, but not too much
    • smegma is normal
    • if you have any concerns, see your GP.

    How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

    It’s a shame some people think talking about cleaning and caring for our genitals is embarrassing or taboo. We probably know more about hair care than penis care.

    The penis is simply another part of our anatomy, so cleaning should be relatively straight forward.

    If you’ve been circumcised, where your foreskin was removed soon after birth, your penis will look something like the one in the diagram (below, right), with the head (or glans) always exposed.

    But if you have a foreskin (below left and centre), there are some extra things to think about when washing, which we’ll get to soon.

    How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

    Foreskin facts

    But first, some foreskin facts. From around the time you turn five, your foreskin separates from the head of your penis, bit by bit. This allows you to pull back your foreskin (retract it). In some boys, the foreskin can stay partially stuck to the head of the penis until puberty.

    You should never forcibly pull back your foreskin. That’ll be painful, you could bleed, you could scar, or have other complications.

    OK, now for the washing part

    Once your foreskin separates easily from the glans, gently retract and clean underneath the foreskin with each bath or shower. Then, after washing, pull the foreskin forward to its normal position.

    When it’s time to dry off, retract the foreskin again so you can dry the head of the penis with a towel. Then, you guessed it, pull the foreskin forward to its normal position.

    It’s OK to clean with soap whether you have a foreskin or not. But generally, too much soap is worse than none at all. Excessive cleaning removes essential body oils that would normally keep our skin moist and reduce friction. If you have sensitive skin, you can use a soap-free wash from the chemist.

    What about smegma?

    Smegma is a thick, whitish discharge consisting of a build-up of dead skin cells, oil and other fluids under the foreskin. And it’s very useful. It protects and lubricates the penis.

    Some people have oilier skin than others and tend to have more smegma. So some smegma is normal, but if you have too much or it becomes smelly, you may need to clean more.

    Things to watch out for (and when to see your GP)

    If the head of your penis becomes painful, red, itchy and has a discharge, you may have a treatable condition called balanitis.

    It’s more common if you have a foreskin. And the bacteria and fungus that cause it like the warm and moist conditions under there.

    Skin disorders, infection, poor hygiene, friction from sexual activity, and using too much soap all cause the condition.

    You can clear a mild case with good hygiene and simple treatments, such as an antiseptic or antifungal cream. You can buy these from any pharmacy. In addition to the medication, the cream itself helps protect and moisturise the inflammed skin.

    If you have balanitis you may need to be more careful than usual to avoid urine irritating your inflamed skin. Retract your foreskin when you urinate. Dry the head of the penis gently after you finish.

    If your penis is still inflamed after a week of these simple measures it’s best to see your GP. They can then investigate other causes, such as psoriasis or an allergy.

    How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

    An uncircumcised penis still has the foreskin attached. Caring for your newborn’s penis is fairly easy. Keep in mind the following:

    • When bathing your child, wash the penis. Then dry it thoroughly.
    • Never forcibly pull back (retract) the foreskin when washing your infant or young child. Forcing the foreskin can cause pain and scarring. The foreskin will likely be able to retract by age 3, but it depends on the child. Gently pull back the foreskin with each diaper change. This will help the foreskin retract.
    • When the foreskin is able to retract, gently pull it back and bathe the area. Dry the penis thoroughly.
    • Return the foreskin to its natural position by pulling it back over the penis. This is important because if the foreskin is left retracted, it could put pressure on the penis. This can cause pain and swelling and may require medical attention.
    • Once the child is old enough, teach him to retract the foreskin to clean his penis. Tell him to return the foreskin to its natural position after drying the penis.

    When to call your healthcare provider

    Call your child’s healthcare provider if your child’s penis has any of the following:

    • Foreskin that is stuck in the retracted position. This needs to be treated right away.
    • Redness
    • Swelling
    • Foul odor
    • Pain
    • Irregular buildup or discharge
    • Abnormal urine stream, such as going off to one side or dribbling

    StayWell last reviewed this educational content on 9/1/2019

    How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

    Dr Buwembo observes that there are healthy practices that men who are uncircumcised can adopt, more for health reasons of controlling infections. Courtesy photo

    What you need to know:

    • Because of the prevalence of circumcision, there isn’t a lot of education around on how to take proper care of uncircumcised penises. If your foreskin is intact, here is what you need to know to keep it clean and healthy.

    Thank you for reading Nation.Africa

    The foreskin is a flap of skin that covers the head of the penis and attaches at the base of the head. Baby boys are born with the foreskin fully attached to their penis, but it gradually loosens as they age. By the time boys reach puberty, the foreskin can usually be retracted down to the base of the glans (the head of the penis) with ease. All men are born with a foreskin, but many undergo circumcision, where the foreskin is removed.

    Circumcision is a surgical procedure that removes the foreskin, the loose tissue covering the glans on the rounded tip of the penis. The method is encouraged because it reduces the risk of some sexually transmitted diseases in men. It can protect them against penile cancer, inflammation of the internal glans, a condition called balanitis or foreskin glans or balanoposthitis.

    However, circumcision is a choice and there are men who prefer not to get circumcised. Moses Mukudde says he has not found reason to go for circumcision because if his creator wanted him to be, he would have created him without the foreskin.

    Also Read

    What is the cause of my wife’s recurring UTIs?

    Why do men go bald?

    “My partner has not complained about my foreskin because I always keep it clean. Every time I bathe, I pay extra attention to my penis. I draw back the foreskin and wash it thoroughly,” he explains. He adds that during his adolescent phase, he was not a fan of bathing and recalls drawing back his foreskin and seeing so much white stuff under the skin.

    It was smelly and, for a moment, feared that he was sick so he confided in his brother during holidays. He advised him to wash his private parts well and assured him that all would be fine. From that day on, he has been keen on maintaining cleanliness.

    Be gentle
    Dr Dennis Buwembo, a public health specialist, says caring for the foreskin is very simple. “In childhood the foreskin is not completely separated from the head of the penis. This is normal and no forceful separation of the foreskin for cleaning purposes is warranted. Separation of the foreskin from head of the penis follows these steps on average,” he explains.

    Dr Buwembo adds that by year one, only 40 per cent of boys have their foreskins completely separated from the head of the penis, by year four only 90 per cent of boys and by 15 years at least 99 per cent of boys. He warns any attempts to forcefully separate the foreskin from the head of the penis in young boys is unwarranted. He further explains that after the foreskin has completely separated from the head of the penis, it should be emphasised to boys that they can gently roll back the foreskin and clean it with soap and water as they do while cleaning the face.

    Dr Vincent Karuhanga, a general physician at Poly Friends Clinic, points out that uncircumcised men who do not clean their penis well will develop a bad odour or smell. He adds that a man should make it a habit to clean the penis after sex because the fluids released during the act may be a breeding ground for bacteria. Instead of wiping it with a tissue, clean it with water as a way of keeping away bacteria.

    Healthy practices
    Dr Buwembo observes that there are healthy practices that men who are uncircumcised can adopt, more for health reasons of controlling infections. “One should engage in safe sex practices such as having one partner whose status for any sexually transmitted infections is known and use a condom consistently,” Dr Buwembo explains.

    In an article in Daily Nation, Dr Torooti Mwirigi says cleanliness should not be a preserve of the foreskin but the general genital area, including the anus, which, if not attended to, will cause irritation in unwanted areas.

    Dr Buwembo says for disease prevention, apart from safe sex practices, there is nothing much one can do because the foreskin is like a sleeve of a jacket with a delicate, easily bruised inner skin; which becomes exposed during a sexual act thereby leading to easy bruising.

    “The outer skin is tough and not easily bruised but this becomes the inner part during sexual activity as the foreskin rolls backwards,” he adds. “Your member is a sensitive organ, a point that should always be kept in mind. For some odd reason, some men feel the need to vigorously scrub their units with powerful soaps or disinfectants to keep clean,” an article on askmen.com, a men’s website with health-related issues, reads.

    The online platform adds, “Just lather up that mild soap and make sure to clean the base, shaft and head of your penis as well as your testicles. Uncircumcised men should slide the foreskin back and wash the head of the exposed penis with warm water, not soap. Then, be sure to dry the area very well.”

    Foreskin care for children
    The foreskin and penis of an infant or child need no special care. A child’s foreskin should never be pulled back (retracted) by force.

    • During the first few years of life, the foreskin is stuck to the head of the penis by a membrane (called the synechia). This membrane or connective tissue dissolves naturally – a process that should never be hurried.

    • The foreskin can be pulled back when its inside surface separates from the head of the penis, and the foreskin’s opening widens. This process happens naturally in childhood or during puberty and has usually happened by the age of 18. Even if the head of the penis and the foreskin separate naturally in infancy, the foreskin may still not be able to be pulled back because the opening in an infant’s foreskin may only be large enough for the passage of urine.

    • When a young boy pulls at his foreskin, he usually pulls it outward. This is normal and natural and no cause for concern; he will not hurt himself.

    • Once the foreskin is ready to be pulled back, your son will most probably discover this for himself. He should be the first person to pull back his foreskin.

    • Telling your son about pulling back his foreskin beforehand will keep him from becoming alarmed the first time it happens.

    Key points to remember
    • The foreskin is the loose skin that covers and protects the end of the penis.
    • The foreskin and penis of an infant or child need no special care.
    • A child’s foreskin should never be pulled back (retracted) by force.
    • There is no need to clean inside the foreskin in young boys – just wash their penis the same as any other part of your son’s body and be careful to wash off any soap.
    • Once the foreskin is easily pulled back, your son should learn to do this as part of normal washing in the bath.
    • Make sure he rinses off any soap and pulls the foreskin back over the head of the penis afterwards.

    Monitor. Empower Uganda.

    We come to you. We are always looking for ways to improve our stories. Let us know what you liked and what we can improve on.

    Growing up, no one ever gave me the rundown on how or what I should do to keep my penis clean […] I’ve never read any reliable answer beyond washing it with water. Do I use soap? Any soap? How normal is smegma? If my penis gets itchy from smegma should I go see a doctor? If so, my GP or a urologist? — Anonymous

    Key points

    • clean under the foreskin, using soap, but not too much
    • smegma is normal
    • if you have any concerns, see your GP.

    How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

    It’s a shame some people think talking about cleaning and caring for our genitals is embarrassing or taboo. We probably know more about hair care than penis care.

    The penis is simply another part of our anatomy, so cleaning should be relatively straight forward.

    If you’ve been circumcised, where your foreskin was removed soon after birth, your penis will look something like the one in the diagram (below, right), with the head (or glans) always exposed.

    But if you have a foreskin (below left and centre), there are some extra things to think about when washing, which we’ll get to soon.

    How to clean an uncircumcised child's penisThe Conversation , CC BY-ND

    Foreskin facts

    But first, some foreskin facts. From around the time you turn five, your foreskin separates from the head of your penis, bit by bit. This allows you to pull back your foreskin (retract it). In some boys, the foreskin can stay partially stuck to the head of the penis until puberty.

    You should never forcibly pull back your foreskin. That’ll be painful, you could bleed, you could scar, or have other complications.

    OK, now for the washing part

    Once your foreskin separates easily from the glans, gently retract and clean underneath the foreskin with each bath or shower. Then, after washing, pull the foreskin forward to its normal position.

    When it’s time to dry off, retract the foreskin again so you can dry the head of the penis with a towel. Then, you guessed it, pull the foreskin forward to its normal position.

    It’s OK to clean with soap whether you have a foreskin or not. But generally, too much soap is worse than none at all. Excessive cleaning removes essential body oils that would normally keep our skin moist and reduce friction. If you have sensitive skin, you can use a soap-free wash from the chemist.

    What about smegma?

    Smegma is a thick, whitish discharge consisting of a build-up of dead skin cells, oil and other fluids under the foreskin. And it’s very useful. It protects and lubricates the penis.

    Some people have oilier skin than others and tend to have more smegma. So some smegma is normal, but if you have too much or it becomes smelly, you may need to clean more.

    Things to watch out for (and when to see your GP)

    If the head of your penis becomes painful, red, itchy and has a discharge, you may have a treatable condition called balanitis.

    It’s more common if you have a foreskin. And the bacteria and fungus that cause it like the warm and moist conditions under there.

    Skin disorders, infection, poor hygiene, friction from sexual activity, and using too much soap all cause the condition.

    You can clear a mild case with good hygiene and simple treatments, such as an antiseptic or antifungal cream. You can buy these from any pharmacy. In addition to the medication, the cream itself helps protect and moisturise the inflammed skin.

    If you have balanitis you may need to be more careful than usual to avoid urine irritating your inflamed skin. Retract your foreskin when you urinate. Dry the head of the penis gently after you finish.

    If your penis is still inflamed after a week of these simple measures it’s best to see your GP. They can then investigate other causes, such as psoriasis or an allergy.

    I Need to Know is our series for teens in search of reliable, confidential advice about life’s tricky questions. Here are some questions we’ve already answered. How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

    This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

    How to talk to kids about circumcision

    How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

    How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

    How to clean an uncircumcised child's penisA reader recently reached out asking for a post about how to talk to kids about circumcision. Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin, which is the skin that covers the head of the penis. The procedure is usually performed in infancy, and it is done for many different reasons. Some of those reasons are religious, some are cultural, and others are related to appearance or cleanliness. Around half of newborn boys in the USA are circumcised each year, but it is an uncommon procedure in many other countries around the world. To learn more about circumcision, including details about the procedure as well as pros and cons, check out this website.

    Many times circumcision comes up for the first time when a child starts comparing their penis, or perhaps their sibling’s penis, to an adult’s penis that they’ve seen, like their father’s. It might also come up if the child is not circumcised and the foreskin detaches, which means it is able to retract. The retraction of the foreskin is a process that happens naturally, usually by the age of 18, where the inside surface of the foreskin separates from the head of the penis. Some adults persist in perpetuating the myth young children need their foreskin gently retracted to encourage this separation process. That is absolutely false. Never retract a child’s foreskin. Until the separation happens naturally, they need only wash the outside of the penis as they would any other body part. Retraction will happen naturally. If the child is experiencing pain, discomfort, or difficulty urinating, do not retract their foreskin. Instead, take the child to the doctor. For more information about this and other aspects of foreskin care, check out this website.

    If a young child asks about foreskin, or points out the differences between two penises that they’ve seen, perhaps between older brothers, it is easy to explain in simple terms:

    “Penises can look different from each other because people are different. Looking different is OK! Penises always start out with foreskin, which is a hood of skin that covers the top of the penis. Sometimes, though, that hood of skin is removed by a doctor, usually when the person is a baby. People do this for lots of reasons. Whether the foreskin is there or not, it’s OK. Penises work the same way no matter what.”

    If your child is school age, sit down with them at the computer and check out this section of Kids Health, a website for kids. This website explains the procedure, how it is done, why it is done, and what the various pros and cons of circumcision are. Going through the information together is a great way to learn, as well as an opportunity to model finding high-quality information online.

    If this topic comes up with teens, there are two very important things to discuss. The first is about cleanliness, making sure that uncircumcised teens know how to care for their foreskin. The second is that all penises, circumcised or uncircumcised, can successfully use condoms. Some people believe that uncircumcised penises cannot fit into condoms and that is not true. Condoms come in different sizes, including Xtra Large, Average, and Closer-fitting/Slim-fit. They also come in different shapes. It might take a few tries to find which condom works the best for them or their partner, but this is true for most people, intact or not. When condoms are used on uncircumcised penises, however, a few extra steps need to be taken and this website offers simple instructions and diagrams that are easy to follow.

    *UPDATE 2/20/17, please read this post, which is an interview about circumcision, or MCG, with Greg Hartley, as a follow up.

    Overview

    Until the foreskin can be pulled back, wash only the outside of the penis. Don’t try to force the foreskin back. When the foreskin can be pulled back, the area needs to be cleaned every day.

    Infants and young children

    • A baby’s foreskin does not pull back easily for about 6 months. Don’t force it. Until you can pull the foreskin back, use warm water to wash the outside of the penis only. Pulling the foreskin back too early can damage it and cause scar tissue to form.
    • When you’re able to pull the foreskin back, do so gently. Only pull it as far as it will go. Carefully wash the whole area with warm water. After washing, return the foreskin to its normal position.
    • Teach your child how to pull back the foreskin and wash their penis. A child as young as 3 can be taught to do this.
    • If your child’s foreskin can’t be pulled all the way back by the time they reach puberty, call your doctor for advice.
    • If you can’t return the foreskin to its normal position, call your doctor right away.

    Related Information

    • Circumcision
    • Growth and Development, Ages 1 to 12 Months
    • Growth and Development, Newborn
    • Male Genital Problems and Injuries

    Credits

    Current as of: September 20, 2021

    Author: Healthwise Staff
    Medical Review:
    Adam Husney MD – Family Medicine
    Kathleen Romito MD – Family Medicine
    Martin J. Gabica MD – Family Medicine

    Guidelines for Parents

    American Academy
    of Pediatrics

    At birth, the penis consists of a cylindrical shaft with a rounded end called the glans. The shaft and glans are separated by a groove called the sulcus. The entire penis – shaft and glans – is covered by a continuous layer of skin. The section of the penile skin that covers the glans is called the foreskin or prepuce. The foreskin consists of two layers, the outer foreskin and an inner lining similar to a mucous membrane.

    Before birth, the foreskin and glans develop as one tissue. The foreskin is firmly attached – really fused – to the glans. Over time, this fusion of the inner surface of the prepuce with the glans skin begins to separate by shedding the cells from the surface of each layer. Epithelial layers of the glans and the inner foreskin lining are regularly replaced, not only in infancy but throughout life. The discarded cells accumulate as whitish, cheesy “pearls” which gradually work their way out via the tip of the foreskin.

    Eventually, sometimes as long as 5, 10, or more years after birth, full separation occurs and the foreskin may then be pushed back away from the glans toward the abdomen. This is called foreskin retraction. The foreskin may retract spontaneously with erections which occur normally from birth on and even occur in fetal life. Also, all children “discover” their genitals as they become more aware of their bodies and may retract the foreskin themselves. If the foreskin does not seem to retract easily early in life, it is important to realize that this is not abnormal and that it should eventually do so.

    How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

    Drawing reprinted with permission of Edward Wallerstein, author of Circumcision: An American Health Fallacy. [CIRP note: The drawing is presented only in the older (1984) edition of the pamphlet.]

    [The Function of the Foreskin: The glans at birth is delicate and easily irritated by urine and feces. The foreskin shields the glans; with circumcision this protection is lost. In such cases, the glans and especially the urinary opening (meatus) may become irritated or infected, causing ulcers, meatitis (inflammation of the meatus), and meatal stenosis (a narrowing of the urinary opening). Such problems virtually never occur in uncircumcised penises. The foreskin protects the glans throughout life.] [CIRP Note: This important paragraph, and the drawing, were printed in the 1984 edition of this pamphlet; but were removed in the 1990 version!]

    Infant Smegma: Skin cells from the glans of the penis and the inner foreskin are shed throughout life. This is especially true in childhood; natural skin shedding serves to separate the foreskin from the glans. Since this shedding takes place in a relatively closed space – with the foreskin covering the glans – the shed skin cells cannot escape in the usual manner. They escape by working their way to the tip of the foreskin. These escaping discarded skin cells constitute infant smegma, which may appear as white “pearls” under the skin.

    Adult Smegma: Specialized sebaceous glands – Tyson’s Glands – which are located on the glans under the foreskin, are largely inactive in childhood. At puberty, Tyson’s Glands produce an oily substance, which, when mixed with shed skin cells, constitute adult smegma. Adult smegma serves a protective, lubricating function for the glans.

    Foreskin Hygiene: The foreskin is easy to care for. The infant should be bathed or sponged frequently, and all parts should be washed including the genitals. The uncircumcised penis is easy to keep clean. No special care is required! No attempt should be made to forcibly retract the foreskin. No manipulation is necessary. There is no need for special cleansing with Q-tips, irrigation, or antiseptics; soap and water externally will suffice.

    Foreskin Retraction: As noted, the foreskin and glans develop as one tissue. Separation will evolve over time. It should not be forced. When will separation occur? Each child is different. Separation may occur before birth; this is rare. It may take a few days, weeks, months, or even years. This is normal. Although many foreskins will retract by age 5, there is no need for concern even after a longer period. [ 1984 version only: No harm will come in leaving the foreskin alone.] Some boys do not attain full retractability of the foreskin until adolescence.

    Hygiene of the Fully Retracted Foreskin: For the first few years, an occasional retraction with cleansing beneath is sufficient.

    Penile hygiene will later become a part of a child’s total body hygiene, including hair shampooing, cleansing the folds of the ear, and brushing teeth. At puberty, the male should be taught the importance of retracting the foreskin and cleaning beneath during his daily bath.

    Summary: Care of the uncircumcised boy is quite easy. “Leave it alone” is good advice. External washing and rinsing on a daily basis is all that is required. Do not retract the foreskin in an infant, as it is almost always attached to the glans. Forcing the foreskin back may harm the penis, causing pain, bleeding, and possibly adhesions. The natural separation of the foreskin from the glans may take many years. After puberty, the adult male learns to retract the foreskin and cleanse under it on a daily basis.

    Safe-sex tips for sleeping with the uncut man

    How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

    Whether you call it a penis skirt, banana hat, worm in a turtleneck, full sleeve, or “what the. “, more and more American men are sporting it: it’s foreskin, the fold of skin that surrounds the penis head of an uncircumcised man.

    If you have yet to come across a guy’s junk before the snip, you might soon. In part due to a decrease in insurance coverage of the procedure, circumcision rates in the U.S. have dropped from 79 percent to 55 percent over the past two decades. And because, studies have shown, uncircumcised men are more likely to contract sexually transmitted infections, lower circumcision rates can lead to greater risk for you and higher associated healthcare costs for all. In fact, if circumcision rates continue to fall to 10 percent—the average in Europe, where the procedure is typically not covered by insurance—the annual net increase in U.S. healthcare costs could be reach a half-billion dollars a year, according to a new study from Johns Hopkins researchers.

    So how does a little bit of extra skin wreak such havoc on uncircumcised men and their partners? The tissue under the foreskin, which sits against an uncircumcised penis, is very delicate, and therefore vulnerable to microtears and abrasions (especially during sexual activity). “The organisms that cause STIs can accumulate under the foreskin of the penis, and this may allow them to survive there longer and reproduce, potentially increasing the risk of infection in that male or his partner,” says Deborah Nucatola, MD, senior director of medical services at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Moreover, studies suggest that the foreskin contains more of the cells that are targeted by the HIV virus. (Concerned about your guy’s hooded member? Learn how to talk to your man about STIs.)

    Regardless of the risks, there’s no need to kick your uncircumcised man out of bed. It’s just important for both of you to be tested, wrap it up, and follow these other—maybe less obvious—safe-sex tips for sleeping with the uncut man.

    Pull it back: There’s a reason you aren’t supposed to put on a condom until his little general is at full attention: it keeps the condom from sliding up, down, and even off. For some (not all) uncircumcised men, this can be an even bigger issue, according to recent studies. So before you put on the condom, make sure that he is not only erect, but if the foreskin is still covering any part of the penis, gently have him—or help him—pull it back, according to Planned Parenthood. Not only will it help keep the goods in place, but it can actually help heighten his sensitivity, since more of the penis is exposed to contact.

    Lube up: Keeping things slick—both inside and outside the condom—can help keep condoms exactly where you want them while you’re in the throws of passion. First, place a very small drop of a water-based lubricant inside the condom so that his foreskin can move as it likes. (According to Avert, an AIDs and HIV charity, it’s important to use very little to prevent the lubricant from from taking up space in the condom’s reservoir tip that semen will need later.) Then, you can lube up however you like. Remember to use only water-based lubricants, such as K-Y jelly or AstroGlide, with latex condoms. Oil-based lubricants like petroleum jelly, cold cream, or mineral and vegetable oils damage latex and will make the condom ineffective at preventing pregnancy and infection. (Check out these lubricants for better sex.)

    Have bath time: While it’s important for everyone to keep their nether region squeaky clean, uncircumcised men need to take an extra step every day to keep that aforementioned bacteria from cavorting between the foreskin and the penis. Don’t worry—it’s easy peasy. And you can give him a hand for an extra steamy shower: While in the shower, gently pull back the foreskin so that the tip of the penis is exposed, and clean both the foreskin and penis with mild (unscented) soap and water, according to Mayo Clinic. When you get out of the shower, make sure everything—especially the inside of the foreskin and the penis underneath it—is completely dry.

    My hope is that parents of 3 year old boys reading this are nodding vigorously right now, tired of wiping up pee from the bathroom floor after every potty break. I’m starting to consider buying stock in Clorox Bathroom wipes at this point, folks.

    My son’s uncircumcised, which I know is factor here in the wayward urine stream. Still, and perhaps the men out there can chime in, it’s not that big of a deal to direct the flow, right? How early did you learn to do it by yourself? I have to “manually adjust” each time, talking my son through it, but sometimes urine STILL gets everywhere. Now he refuses to even try on his own, and just sort of leans back, waiting for me to unzip, etc.

    Thoughts? Am I expecting too much too early? I saw a little boy my son’s age just head into the bathroom solo and presumably handle the situation solo, so I feel this is a reasonable hope for my little guy.

    Answers

    I wouldn’t completely bail on having him stand just yet – boy’s gotta learn sooner rather than later!

    Make sure you’ve exhausted all the ‘game’ options possible. A few simple ideas:

    • Can you set a record for making the most bubbles?
    • Can you hit the target?
    • How long can you keep the pee going? Longer than dad?

    To be super clear, this problem isn’t exactly *ahem* confined to three year-old boys. Men’s rooms very frequently have housefly decals on urinals to encourage men to keep things clean:

    I wasn’t sure what the frozen pea was, but perhaps that’s a target for the boy to hit?

    In any case, don’t worry: every boy goes through this learning curve. Downside, of course, is that it’s a messy learning curve. The upside is that he won’t have to sit in nasty public men’s rooms nearly so often!

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    Is your son sitting or standing to pee? My son is 3 – we tried teaching him to pee standing up, and it just requires too much coordination and aim to get things right at this age (at least for him). He seemed to pee pretty much everywhere but the toilet. So now I have him sit down on the potty to pee and poop. I taught him to just push his penis down while sitting, so the pee doesn’t hit the edge of the seat and spray everywhere. That seemed to be a much easier concept for him to understand.

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    My son is two and he pees standing, he aims, holds, and shakes it off lol. It helped that before we started potty training hed go on potty breaks with daddy and wed let him pretend to go too if he wanted to. When we did start potty training we just told him pee like daddy and he did because he’s always trying to copy his dad. If there is no daddy around you can always have maybe grandpa show him how. If he happens to forget once in a while or doesn’t aim it right, make him clean it up or have him help and let him know that pee needs to go in the toilet not the floor and he’ll come to learn that its not acceptable and try harder to get it in the toilet. You could also try stickers of his favorite characters and have him use them as a target game and he’ll get one m&m or cookie if he doesn’t miss any.

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    My son generally sits at home, he has autism tho and it takes focus for him to be able to release so it can take a while. when he insists on a stand up pee, I let him, but i end up having to hold his hips straight and he leans back and often is a mess lol. At pre-school he uses a urinal. so idunno what his deal is, I guess having peers doing the same thing lol. I don’t care if he sits to pee, it’s much less hassle for us.

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    How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

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    How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

    How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

    In this article

    • How should I care for my baby boy’s penis?
    • How should I care for my baby girl’s vaginal area?

    Your baby’s genitals are very delicate, so cleaning this area needs special care. Try to balance keeping your baby clean with not washing and wiping too often, as this can irritate baby skin.

    Change your baby’s nappy regularly. If they’ve done a poo, change and clean them as soon as possible, as the combination of poo and wee is most likely to irritate their skin. It can cause nappy rash, which can affect your baby’s genitals, the inside of their thighs and their bottom (NHS 2015a, NICE 2013) .

    Many parents wash the nappy area with just warm water for the first couple of weeks. Adding a little mild liquid baby cleanser to the water is another option (Blume-Peytavi et al 2016) , or you could use specially formulated, sensitive, fragrance-free baby wipes (Blume-Peytavi et al 2016, NICE 2013) . Using these won’t damage your baby’s natural skin barrier (Blume-Peytavi et al 2016) .

    Avoid using baby products made with soap (Lawton 2013, NICE 2013) and baby wipes containing alcohol or perfume. These can disturb the natural balance of your baby’s skin (NICE 2013) .

    Wash your baby’s bottom gently and pat it dry (NHS 2015b) with a soft towel. You may want to apply some barrier cream to prevent your baby getting nappy rash. Try to let your baby go nappy-free as much as you can (NHS 2015c, NICE 2013) , so don’t always rush to get a clean nappy on again.

    If your baby’s skin is dry, you could add bath emollient solution to the water when you bath them (Lawton 2013, Van Onselen, 2017) . Adding emollient to the water will make your baby slippery to handle, so you need to be extra-careful.

    How should I care for my baby boy’s penis?

    At nappy changes and bathtimes, wash or wipe around your baby’s penis and scrotum to clean away poo.

    You can use a clean cloth or cotton pad with either water, or water mixed with a little mild baby cleansing liquid (Lavender et al 2013) . Specially formulated baby cleansers are best, as these are unlikely to damage your baby’s natural skin barrier (Blume-Peytavi et al 2016) .

    Specially formulated, sensitive, unperfumed, baby wipes may be as kind to your baby’s skin as a cotton pad and water (Lavender et al 2012) . Always try to use baby wipes that are alcohol-free.

    While your son is a baby, the head of his penis will self-clean to some extent. Never pull back his foreskin to clean as you won’t be able to slide it back.

    Your baby’s foreskin will be attached to the head of his penis. The foreskin will start to separate from his penis when he’s about two years old (NHS 2016) . You don’t need to help it along and you’ll probably do more harm than good if you try (NHS 2016, NICE 2018) .

    If your baby has been circumcised, change his nappy regularly and keep his penis clean. You can use water mixed with a little mild baby cleansing liquid to gently wash the penis. Put some petroleum jelly on the wound before putting his nappy back on (ACOG 2017) .

    Allow as much air as possible to circulate around your baby’s penis while it’s healing. If you can, give your baby some time without his nappy on (NHS 2016) .

    Your baby’s circumcised penis may take about seven days to 10 days to heal (NHS 2016, ACOG 2017) . For the first few days after circumcision, your baby’s penis may look quite red and swollen and you may notice a yellowish secretion (ACOG 2017, NHS 2016) . These are all signs of normal healing.

    If your son’s penis does become infected, it may have redness that doesn’t fade, or bleeding and a swollen penis tip (ACOG 2017, NHS 2016) . Your baby will feel pain when he does a wee. If he has a distressed cry and you notice any of these signs, call your doctor straight away (NHS 2016) .

    How should I care for my baby girl’s vaginal area?

    During nappy changes and bathtimes, wash or wipe around your baby’s genitals and bottom to clean away poo. Always wipe the area from front to back. You can use a clean cloth or cotton pad with either water, or water mixed with a little mild soap-free baby cleansing liquid (Blume-Peytavi et al 2016) .

    Specially formulated, sensitive, unperfumed baby wipes may be as kind to your baby’s skin as a cotton pad and water (Lavender et al 2012) . Always try to use baby wipes that are alcohol-free. Wipe away from your baby’s vagina and urethra (the opening through which she does a wee) (NHS 2015c) .

    If your baby has a very dirty nappy and poo has got within her vaginal lips (labia), do the following:

    • With clean fingers, gently separate your baby girl’s vaginal lips.
    • With a moist cotton pad, a clean dampened cloth, or a suitable baby wipe (unperfumed and sensitive), wipe the area from top to bottom, or front to back, down the middle.
    • Then, clean each side within her labia with a fresh damp cloth, a moist cotton pad or wipe.

    Wiping from front to back will help to prevent bacteria transferring from your baby’s bottom to her vagina or urethra, and causing an infection (NHS 2015c) . When giving your baby a bath, again just use a clean flannel or sponge to swish water around the area, and wipe from front to back.

    In the first few weeks, you may notice that your baby’s vaginal area is swollen and red, or that she has a clear, white, or slightly bloody discharge. This is normal and happens because she’s been exposed to your hormones while she was still in your womb.

    However, if your baby is still having discharge after the first six weeks, mention it to your doctor at your postnatal check.

    You might also like:

    • Find out what to do if your baby has eczema.
    • Read these tips on how to keep your baby safe in the bath.
    • Is water-only best for washing your baby?
    • Watch our video for tips on bathing your baby.

    References

    AAP. 2016. How to care for your baby’s penis. American Academy of Pediatrics. www.healthychildren.org [Accessed May 2018]

    ACOG. 2017. Newborn male circumcision. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. www.acog.org/ [Accessed March 2018]

    Blume-Peytavi U, Lavender T, Jenerowicz D et al. 2016. Recommendations from a European round table meeting on best practice healthy infant skin care. Pediatric Dermatology 33(3):311-321. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov [Accessed March 2018]

    Lavender T, Furber C, Campbell M, et al. 2012. Effect on skin hydration of using baby wipes to clean the napkin area of newborns: assessor-blinded randomized controlled equivalence trial. BMC Pediatrics 12:59. www.biomedcentral.com [Accessed March 2018]

    Lavender T, Bedwell C, Roberts SA, et al. 2013. Randomized, controlled trial evaluating a baby wash product on skin barrier function in healthy, term neonates. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs 42(2):203-14. onlinelibrary.wiley.com [Accessed March 2018]

    Lawton S. 2013. Understanding skin care and skin barrier function in infants. Nursing Children & Young People 25(7):28-33 [Accessed March 2018]

    How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

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    How do you put on a condom if I have an uncircumcised penis? Do I have to pull my foreskin back? Does it have to be over the testicles also?

    Most uncircumcised people pull their foreskin back when putting on a condom, but it’s a matter of personal preference.

    A condom doesn’t cover your testicles — just your penis. With a little practice, condoms are very easy to use.

    Here are some tips for putting on a condom:

    • Use a condom only once. Use a fresh one for each erection (hard-on). Check the expiration date on the package and never use an expired condom.
    • Condoms usually come rolled into a ring shape. They’re individually sealed in aluminum foil or plastic. Be careful — don’t tear the condom while unwrapping it. If it’s torn, brittle, stiff, or sticky, throw it away and use another.
    • Put a drop or two of lubricant inside the condom to make it more comfortable. Only use water-based or silicone lube with latex condoms. Using oil-based lube can make condoms more likely to break.
    • Place the rolled condom over the tip of your hard penis.
    • Leave a half-inch space at the tip so there’s room for semen .
    • Pinch the air out of the tip with one hand while placing it on your penis.
    • Unroll the condom over your penis with the other hand.
    • Roll it all the way down to the base of your penis.
    • Smooth out any air bubbles. (Friction against air bubbles can cause condoms to break.)
    • Lubricate the outside of the condom.

    Here are some tips for taking off a condom:

    • Pull out before your penis softens.
    • Don’t spill the semen — hold the condom against the base of your penis while you pull out.
    • Throw the condom away.
    • Wash your penis with soap and water before having sex again.

    It’s best if both you and your partner know how to use a condom. It will make using a condom easier and even feel better. If you’re both on board and know how to use condoms, you’re also more likely to use them correctly, every time, making them work better. You can practice putting on and taking off a condom on your penis or on a penis-shaped object, like a banana or cucumber.

    Need answers? Chat with us.

    Between our sexual health educators or chat bot, we got you covered.

    Need answers? Chat with us.

    Between our sexual health educators or chat bot, we got you covered.

    Ask us anything. Seriously.

    Between our trained sexual health educators or chat bot, we can answer your questions about your sexual health whenever you have them. And they are free and confidential.

    How to clean an uncircumcised child's penis

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    Overview

    Until the foreskin can be pulled back, wash only the outside of the penis. Don’t try to force the foreskin back. When the foreskin can be pulled back, the area needs to be cleaned every day.

    Infants and young children

    • A baby’s foreskin does not pull back easily for about 6 months. Don’t force it. Until you can pull the foreskin back, use warm water to wash the outside of the penis only. Pulling the foreskin back too early can damage it and cause scar tissue to form.
    • When you’re able to pull the foreskin back, do so gently. Only pull it as far as it will go. Carefully wash the whole area with warm water. After washing, return the foreskin to its normal position.
    • Teach your child how to pull back the foreskin and wash their penis. A child as young as 3 can be taught to do this.
    • If your child’s foreskin can’t be pulled all the way back by the time they reach puberty, call your doctor for advice.
    • If you can’t return the foreskin to its normal position, call your doctor right away.

    Current as of: September 20, 2021

    Medical Review: Adam Husney MD – Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD – Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD – Family Medicine

    This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

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