I'm not planning to have my newborn son circumcised. How should I care for his uncircumcised penis?
Answers from Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.
In an uncircumcised penis, a fold of skin (foreskin) covers the head of the penis. If you choose not to have your son circumcised, simply wash his uncircumcised penis with soap and water during each bath. There's no need to use cotton swabs or special cleansers. Treat the foreskin gently, being careful not to pull it back forcibly. Consult the doctor if your son seems to have discomfort while urinating — especially if the foreskin fills with urine or balloons out during urination — or the foreskin becomes red, itchy or swollen.
As your son gets older, the foreskin of his uncircumcised penis will begin to separate from the tip of the penis. This allows the foreskin to be pulled back (retracted). Some boys can retract the foreskin by age 5 or even earlier, while others can't do so until puberty. As soon as the foreskin can be retracted, it's important to clean beneath it regularly. Teach your son to:
- Gently pull back the foreskin
- Clean beneath the foreskin with mild soap and water
- Rinse and dry beneath the foreskin thoroughly
- Pull the foreskin back over the head of the penis
Encourage your son to follow the same procedure through adulthood as part of his daily bathing routine.
Feb. 24, 2012
See more Expert Answers
- Wilson JM. Care of the uncircumcised penis. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Nov. 9, 2011.
- Buescher JJ, et al. Care of the newborn. In: Rakel RE. Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-1160-8..10022-3--s0330&isbn=978-1-4377-1160-8&sid=1230851083&uniqId=293836219-6#4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-1160-8..10022-3--s0330. Accessed Nov. 9, 2011.