Paraphimosis in Children: Care Instructions

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

This only happens in someone who still has their foreskin.

This problem needs to be treated right away. If it's not treated, the penis will swell. Blood 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 your child be circumcised. This can prevent the problem from happening again.

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

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Do not pull back the foreskin for a week or until your doctor says it's okay.
  • Give pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If your child has surgery, follow the directions you are given.
  • If your child has small tears in the foreskin, your doctor may have you apply an antibiotic cream to the area. You may also be asked to watch for any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, pain, or drainage.


  • Clean your child's penis every day, carefully washing the whole area with warm water. Or if your child is older, have your child wash the area carefully. For the first week, only wash the outside of the penis.
  • After a week, you can gently pull the foreskin back while washing the area. Pull it back only as far as it will go. Carefully wash the entire area with warm water. After washing, return the foreskin to its normal position.
  • Teach your child how to pull back the foreskin and return it to its normal position. Some children as young as 3 can be taught to do this.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • The foreskin is stuck behind the head of your child's penis.
  • Your child has symptoms of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness in the penis.
    • Increased pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if your child has any problems.

Where can you learn more?

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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.