Several problems can arise in people who have an uncircumcised penis. However, it is possible to avoid most of these issues by practicing good hygiene and safe sex.
The foreskin is a thin layer of skin covering the head of the penis. Circumcision is a surgical procedure to remove the foreskin. Some people undergo the procedure for religious or cultural reasons, but it can also be a way to reduce health risks.
People who are not circumcised and do not take proper care of their foreskin can experience some health-related complications. Keep reading to learn more about them.
Good hygiene and safe sex may help prevent problems in people with an uncircumcised penis.
Phimosis is where the foreskin is too tight around the penis, which prevents it from pulling back over the head of the penis.
The condition usually affects children and will improve as the foreskin loosens with age. In adults, it may result from a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It does not usually cause any symptoms or require medical attention.
However, in some cases, it might cause:
pain and tenderness around the tip of the penis
swelling of the penis
scarring around the penis tip
difficulty controlling urination
If phimosis is causing symptoms, a doctor will advise cleaning the area with lukewarm water daily. It is best to avoid using soaps or shampoos.
If there is inflammation, a doctor may also prescribe corticosteroid creams or ointments.
Paraphimosis occurs when the foreskin becomes stuck below the head and cannot pull back over the penis. The skin can become tight around the penis shaft, causing swelling and discomfort.
Paraphimosis can also cause fluid to build up around the area, worsening the swelling. Without treatment, paraphimosis can prevent blood from reaching the tip of the penis.
It is necessary to seek emergency medical attention for paraphimosis to avoid complications.
Doctors may use a local anesthetic to ease pain in the area. They can usually help restore the foreskin manually. However, in severe cases, they may have to make a small cut to loosen the skin.
3. Bacterial or fungal infection
Without regular cleaning of the penis, bacteria can build up on the foreskin and cause infections. Infections can also occur if there is a small cut or sore on the foreskin, as a break in the skin can allow microbes to enter.
Balanitis is an inflammation of the head of the penis, and it is a common result of an infection that affects the foreskin. About 3–11% of men will experience balanitis at some point in their lifetime.
The symptoms of balanitis can include:
a sore and itchy penis
swelling of the penis
pain during urination
discharge under the foreskin that is thicker than normal with a foul smell
Antibiotic medications are the best way to treat bacterial infections of the penis, whereas antifungal medications will be necessary in the case of a fungal infection. Both types of treatment will typically be in the form of creams or ointments that a person applies directly to the penis.
As poor hygiene is the primary cause of balanitis, it is important to clean the area regularly.
Read more about some possible infections of the penis here.