Paraphimosis: Care Instructions

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Paraphimosis (say "pair-uh-fy-MOH-suss") is a problem with the skin on your penis. The skin that folds over the penis (foreskin) gets tight and sticks behind the head of the penis. The skin can't return to its normal place over the head of the penis.

This only happens when someone still has their foreskin.

This problem needs to be treated right away. If it's not treated, the penis will swell. Then blood flow to the head of the penis may be cut off. This can damage the penis. And it can be very painful.

Your doctor probably reduced the swelling and put the foreskin in its normal place. Your doctor may have done surgery if the problem was severe.

Your doctor may suggest that you be circumcised. This can prevent the problem from happening again.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Do not pull back the foreskin for a week.
  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Follow the instructions your doctor gave you. These may include how to apply a cream or ointment. Or they may say how to care for any incisions. You may also be asked to watch for any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, pain, or drainage.
  • If the problem happened during sex, do not have sex for a week or until your doctor says it's okay.


  • Clean your penis every day. Pull the foreskin back. Then carefully wash the whole area with warm water. After washing, return the foreskin to its normal position.
  • Always return the foreskin to its normal position if it has been pulled back. This may happen during sex. Or you may pull it back before sex, before you urinate, or when you clean your penis.
  • Be sure the foreskin is in its normal position after any doctor exam or procedure. For example, the foreskin may be pulled back to use a catheter.
  • If the problem happened after using jewelry in a piercing, do not use the jewelry again.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • The foreskin is stuck behind the head of the penis.
  • You have symptoms of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness in the penis.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.