Symptoms and Signs of Foreskin Problems

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 6/21/2022

Doctor's Notes on Foreskin Problems

Foreskin problems are conditions that can occur in the foreskin of the penis in an uncircumcised boy or man. Phimosis is one example. Phimosis refers to the condition in which the foreskin cannot be retracted (pulled back) behind the head, or glans, of the penis. Paraphimosis is a different condition. In paraphimosis, the foreskin, after being pulled back, becomes trapped behind the head of the penis. 

Signs and symptoms of phimosis can include

  • pain with urination or difficulty urinating, 
  • blood in the urine, or pain in the penis.

Pain is the most common symptom associated with paraphimosis. The swelling of the trapped foreskin in paraphimosis can lead to interruption of blood flow to the penis, ultimately posing a risk for gangrene (tissue death) of the penis. Paraphimosis is a true medical emergency requiring immediate attention.

What is the treatment for foreskin problems?

Treatments depend upon the particular foreskin problem that is present. Infections are treated with antibiotics or antifungal medications (for yeast infections). Paraphimosis requires urgent medical attention to avoid restricting blood flow to the penis.

Phimosis and paraphimosis may be treated by injecting a local anesthetic and pushing the foreskin into place. In some cases, a surgical incision may be required. In more serious cases, the physician may recommend circumcision.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.