Paraphimosis is when the foreskin is pulled back behind the tip of the penis and becomes stuck there. The retracted foreskin and the penis become swollen, fluid can build up, and the foreskin is unable to return to its original position.
Paraphimosis should not be confused with phimosis, which is when the foreskin cannot be pulled back from the tip of the penis. Typically, this occurs in younger children and is not usually a serious condition.
Paraphimosis, on the other hand, is painful and a medical emergency that needs to be treated quickly. If ignored, it can affect blood flow to the tip of the penis. In rare cases, this may cause the penis tip to be damaged, or even lost.
Fast facts on paraphimosis:
Pain, swelling, and an inability to retract the foreskin are the main symptoms.
Paraphimosis can usually be resolved manually. If not, minor surgical treatment may help.
Personal hygiene can go a long way towards preventing paraphimosis.
If treated quickly, the condition is not serious.
How is paraphimosis caused?
Paraphimosis should be treated quickly to avoid complications.
Paraphimosis can be caused by any of the following conditions or activities:
A foreskin that is left retracted long enough for swelling to occur. This can happen during a medical examination, after cleaning, or after urination.
A tight foreskin that is retracted, causing the penis to swell. This results in the foreskin not being able to move back to its natural position.
Vigorous sexual activity, penile piercing, and use of a constricting penile ring to enhance erection by compression.
Paraphimosis can also result from the following medical conditions or procedures:
Infection, due to various factors, including poor personal hygiene.
Scarring, caused by repeated infection of the foreskin, or by forced retraction of the foreskin in young boys.
A circumcision that has not be done correctly.
Swelling of the penis and foreskin, due to insect or spider bite.
Paraphimosis in older men is often due to one of the following:
Diabetes, causing chronic inflammation of the penis and foreskin. This makes paraphimosis more likely.
Catheterization that is done without the foreskin being returned to its natural position.
In children, the foreskin does not retract at all until about 2 years of age. Most boys will have a retractable foreskin by the age of 10, and forcibly pulling the foreskin back before it is ready to do so can cause scarring that can go on to cause paraphimosis.