Phimosis is the inability to retract the foreskin of your penis over its head. It may give the appearance of a tight ring or rubber band around the tip of the penis, which prevents the full retraction of the penis. Phimosis can occur at any age and is mostly reported by uncircumcised males, but it can occur after circumcision if the surrounding skin of the penis becomes sclerotic.
What Are The Causes Of Phimosis?
Phimosis can be congenital, present since birth, or it can be developed over the years due to the following reasons:
- Improper Handling Of The Penis: You may suffer from phimosis if you forcefully pull back the foreskin, resulting in damage and scarring.
- Poor Hygiene: If you do not clean the area under the foreskin, it can result in the accumulation of smegma, a combination of skin oils, shed skin, and moisture. This makes your penis more prone to fungal and bacterial infections, which can result in phimosis.1
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Sexually transmitted diseases and infections can damage the foreskin, resulting in scar formation. This makes it extremely difficult to retract the foreskin.2
- Skin Conditions: Certain skin conditions like sclerosis, eczema, psoriasis, and lichen planus affects the elasticity of the foreskin. This by itself is enough to cause difficulty in pulling back the foreskin or it can result in the formation of scar tissues.3
- Urinary Catheterization: In urinary catheterization, a silicone, latex, or polyurethane tube is inserted into a patient’s urethra to help the urine drain freely from the bladder for collection. Frequent catheterization can damage the penile foreskin and cause phimosis.
- Age: Phimosis is normal in babies and toddlers because, in uncircumcised boys, the foreskin is still attached to the glans. You can also develop phimosis during the later stages of your life because, with age, your skin loses its elasticity. This increases your risk of phimosis and makes it more difficult for you to achieve an erection.4
Are The Symptoms Of Phimosis?
The major symptom of phimosis is the inability to retract the foreskin of the penis. But there are other symptoms as well, which include the following:
- Weak urine system
- Difficulty urinating
- Painful erections
- Collection of urine under the foreskin
- Inflammation of the foreskin and glans
- Frequent urinary tract infections
How Is Phimosis Diagnosed?
Your doctor will diagnose your condition by checking your medical history and by performing a physical examination of your penis. Scar formation, difficulty in retracting the foreskin over the head of the penis, and ballooning usually confirm the diagnosis. However, if there is an infection, the doctor may send swab samples to the lab for a proper analysis. Since your doctor will probably have seen many similar cases, you don’t need to feel embarrassed about it.
Is Phimosis Treated?
The treatment for phimosis typically depends on the severity and type of your condition, the cause, your age, and other health conditions that may be causing the issue. The doctor treating you will generally help you by:
- prescribing ointments to reduce the swelling.
- working manually to loosen the foreskin from its position.
- getting rid of fluid that may be lodged under the foreskin to reduce bulging.
- making a small slit on the foreskin to loosen it.
- recommending a circumcision to remove the entire foreskin.
- prescribing medications to treat urinary tract infections.
How To Prevent Phimosis
|↑1, ↑2||McGregor, Thomas B., John G. Pike, and Michael P. Leonard. “Pathologic and physiologic phimosis.” Canadian Family Physician 53, no. 3. 2007.|
|↑3, ↑5||Tight foreskin (phimosis and paraphimosis). National Health Service.|
|↑4||Williams, J. Chandler, Patricia M. Morrison, and John R. Richardson. “Paraphimosis in elderly men.” The American journal of emergency medicine 13, no. 3. 1995.|