Men's Health Data Verified

Phimosis (Tight Foreskin): Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Written by
Dr. Vasantha K S
and medically reviewed by Dr. Sneha Kannan

Published on Dec 05, 2017 and last reviewed on Jun 27, 2019   -  2 min read



Phimosis is caused when the foreskin is too small and it becomes difficult to pull it over. Get immediate help if you have pain and difficulty urinating.

Phimosis (Tight Foreskin): Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

The prepuce (foreskin) is a double-layered tissue that forms the anatomical covering of the glans penis in males. In certain conditions, the prepuce is too tight and does not slide over the glans and is stuck in one place, either over the tip or behind.

What Are Phimosis and Paraphimosis?

When the opening of the foreskin is too small for it to be retracted behind, the condition is known as phimosis.

When the prepuce has retracted back and cannot be brought forward again, it is known as paraphimosis.

What Are the Types of Phimosis?

  • Physiological: Almost all boys are naturally born with a tight foreskin and separation occurs naturally over time. It is essential for parents and caregivers to understand that phimosis is normal in an uncircumcised infant and resolves during adolescence.
  • Pathological: Pathological phimosis can occur in any male as a result of scarring, inflammation or infection of the foreskin. It is usually seen in uncircumcised adult men.

What Causes Phimosis?

  • Repeated urinary tract infection.
  • Foreskin trauma during sex.
  • Repeated rough masturbation
  • Sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Lack of foreskin hygiene.
  • Certain dermatological conditions.

What Are the Symptoms of Phimosis?

  • Pain, discharge, and swelling.
  • Ballooning of foreskin while urinating.
  • Difficulty in urination
  • Painful erection.
  • Repeated infections.

It can also lead to inflammation of the glans (balanitis) or inflammation of the glans as well as foreskin (balanoposthitis).

How to Treat Phimosis?

The treatment depends on the age, severity, and cause of phimosis.

  • In very mild cases, gentle stretching of the penis during bathing and cleansing will suffice.
  • In a few others, a short course of topical steroid ointments and creams can help loosen the skin.
  • In some instances, partial or complete circumcision is recommended by the doctor.

When To Circumcise?

Circumcision involves surgically cutting off the foreskin that protects and lubricates the head of the penis. Apart from being indicated for religious, cultural and social reasons, medically circumcision has been the traditional treatment for phimosis.

Phimosis is experienced by children and men for different reasons. Surgical intervention is not necessary for all male infants with a non-retractile foreskin. In infants, phimosis is the norm as the foreskin and glans develop as one. With age, the foreskin becomes more pliable and resolves on its own by the time they are seven to 10 years of age. In some boys, it can settle even later. It is not a problem unless there are symptoms. So, there is no need for parents to get anxious and choose circumcision for their healthy baby boys. Maintaining penile hygiene will help with this.

If phimosis is due to an infection (pathological), and other treatments do not help, then it is advisable to consult a urologist who can tell the difference between a normal tight foreskin and a true phimosis and accordingly advise you a treatment plan based on the severity.

For more information consult a urologist online -->


This is a sponsored Ad. icliniq or icliniq doctors do not endorse the content in the Ad.

Frequently Asked Questions


Why does phimosis occur?

Phimosis is common in uncircumcised males. It can occur due to repeated urinary tract infection, foreskin infection, foreskin injury, and skin condition affecting the penis like eczema, psoriasis, lichen planus, and lichen sclerosus.


What is phimosis surgery called?

In severe cases of phimosis, a surgery called as circumcision is done. It is the surgical removal of the foreskin. The foreskin is either completely or partially removed.


What are the steroid creams used for phimosis?

Cream, gel, or ointment containing steroid like Clobetasol propionate is used to treat phimosis. Application of a steroid cream can make the skin soft, which makes it easier to retract the skin. Always use steroids under medical supervision.


How do you treat phimosis at home?

Try pulling the foreskin gently back and forth while cleaning the penis every day. This should be started at a very early age and can be used to treat as well as prevent phimosis. But remember never to retract the foreskin forcefully.


Is it necessary to treat phimosis?

Yes, you should get phimosis treated as early as possible. If left untreated, it can lead to balanitis, paraphimosis, posthitis, and penile cancer.


How do you know if you have phimosis?

Difficulty retracting the foreskin of an uncircumcised penis is the characteristic sign of phimosis.


How long does it take for phimosis to go away?

Once you start the treatment, you should see changes within a week. After a couple of weeks, you will be able to stretch the skin.


Can tight foreskin prevent growth?

Tight foreskin preventing growth is a myth. The foreskin stretches and grows as your penis grow, and it will in no way prevent growth.


Can phimosis cause UTI?

Phimosis can cause inflammation of both the penis and glans penis (balanoposthitis), which in turn can cause urinary tract infection.


How do you cure a tight foreskin without surgery?

If your condition is not severe, then your doctor might suggest applying steroid creams and gently performing penile stretching exercises. But in severe cases, circumcision has to be done.

Last reviewed at:
27 Jun 2019  -  2 min read




Comprehensive Medical Second Opinion.Submit your Case

Related Questions & Answers

Foreskin Is Swollen Like A Balloon After Frenuloplasty. Is This Normal?

Query: Hi doctor,Yesterday I had to have a frenuloplasty. I had to have a general anaesthetic. I woke up and never got any advice off the urologist because I never saw him after the procedure. The nurse who discharged me told me to take off the dressing in the morning and wash the wound and the foreskin tw...  Read Full »

I put scotch tape on penis to regenerate foreskin. Will my babies have birth defects?

Query: Hello doctor, To make a long story short, I used scotch tape and micropore tape respectively on my penis. Two straps of tape were attached to the penis in the form of a cross, so that they met in the tip of the penis' head, while the ends went all the way down to the skin of the shaft. This allowed...  Read Full »

Can I have sex with phimosis?

Query: Hi doctor,I have phimosis. I am ashamed to have sex with my fiance. Will sex be a problem or uncomfortable in future? Is there any solution other than surgery?  Read Full »

Popular Articles Most Popular Articles

Do you have a question on Circumcision Of Penis or Paraphimosis?

Ask a Doctor Online

* guaranteed answer within 4 hours.
Enter Your Health Query
You can upload files and images in the next step.



Disclaimer: All health articles published on this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment by a trained physician. Seek the advice from your physician or other qualified health-care providers with questions you may have regarding your symptoms and medical condition for a complete medical diagnosis. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website.