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Conditions

Phimosis

Tight foreskin

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A tight foreskin is most commonly diagnosed at an early age, as 95% of 16-17 years olds should be able to retract their foreskins fully. Its medical term is ‘phimosis’ and this comes from the Greek world for ‘muzzle’, which means that men’s constant references to their ‘weapon’ might not be far from the truth…

A man should be able to retract his foreskin over the head of his penis, but if he can’t this can have a discomforting effect when having sex, and can lead to hygiene issues as it becomes difficult to clean the penis effectively. Treatment of the condition has most commonly been circumcision, but this has recently been replaced by use of a topical steroid cream, which when applied for 4-6 weeks can often reduce the constriction of the skin enough to fit the foreskin over the head. There are also ways to permanently stretch the skin, either manually or through use of embedded balloons. If these methods are not affective, then it is possible to have surgery called Preputioplasty, where a dorsal slit is made to relieve the tension, without having to remove the whole foreskin.

If your child has a painful penis he may be suffering from paraphimosis, to find out more check the condition guide for parents on Embarrassing Bodies: Kids website.

Watch the Live from the Clinic interactive case video on split foreskin >

Comments and Questions

The EB doctors have been looking at your comments and have answered some of the common questions below. Remember that it is always best to check with a health professional if you have any concerns about your health.

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Hi, I have just turned 55. For the last 6months I have had a lower back pain near my tail bone. It is fine when walking or running but is sore when I sit down, even on a soft seat. 2 months ago I took quite a bad UTI and was given a seven day course of trimethoprim. This didn't work and was given a 10 day course of phenazopydrine 100mg plus levofloxacin 500mg. This cleared up the infection but I am now experiencing a tightening of my foreskin. Obviously I don't know if these are link but I still have the back pain and the tight foreskin. I am working abroad at the moment and due home next week. What is your recommendation ?





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I am 17 years old and I have a tight foreskin I only pulled it back once and I wasn't erect I panicked thinking it would damage something and put it back to its original position straight away it didn't hurt and I can't pull it back when I'm erect either someone help me pls I only want to go to the GP as a last resort





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I am 17 years old and I have a tight foreskin I only pulled it back once and I wasn't erect I panicked thinking it would damage something and put it back to its original position straight away it didn't hurt and I can't pull it back when I'm erect either someone help me pls I only want to go to the GP as a last resort





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I also had phimosis and I believed it may have been caused by damage to the 3 spongy chambers of the penis due to applyng too much pressure in masturbation. My advice is to leave it o rest for a few days and not apply too much pressure to the penis in masturbation. See my blog called uktightforeskin.blogspot.com where i explain further.





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I'm scared as if I go to the GP does that mean I will have to get an erection? Because I have no problems when flaccid.





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No. You don't need to be erect for the doctor to tell if your phimotic ring or frenulum is too tight. They will have to examine your penis, though.

Hi my name is ben I have phimosis, I'm 17 and have been trying to stretch my foreskin since about 2-3 weeks now and I still can't fully retract my foreskin. I'm too embarrassed to go to my local GP and don't know what to do could you think of a solution? And I won't have a circumsission





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Im 15 my penis dont retract. I can still masturbate i just cant pull all the way back.





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im 47 and have never been able to retract my foreskin even when flaccid,if I had the dorsal cut would it look normal afterwards,would I be in pain and how long would I be in hospital





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Hello I'm a 17 year old boy with a tight foreskin, there are scars around the opening of the foreskin and I'm pretty confused about where these came from. I'm guessing that these are the problem for the foreskin being tight now. I often get a pain in the head of my penis and redness occurs too, but it seems to come and go. I'm too scared to tell my parents and I can't go to the doctors by myself, I honestly have no idea what to do. Please help me, thanks in advance.





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Hi! I a 44 year old who has suffered from a tight foreskin all my life. It has never caused me any concern as I have grown up with it. I remember as a child I once pulled it over my glands but it wouldn't retract(causing swelling), the local GP performed minor surgery which allowed it to retract. He told me to daily perform exercises of rolling it back and forth but I felt to embarrassed. Now I am embarrassed to even get intimate with anybody. It is so tight I know creams wont work and need advice. I feel only circumcision will help. Where is the best place to start?





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