Men's Health

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

Written by Dr. Vasantha K S and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

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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.

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.

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.


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


  • 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).


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 -->

Last reviewed at: 07.Sep.2018



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