Penile Foreskin

What is foreskin?

Foreskin is the part of skin which covers the tip/head (glans) of the penis.

Generally at birth, the foreskin is attached to the penis.  Within about 2 years the foreskin gradually becomes separated from glans penis and can be pulled back.

How do I care for the foreskin?

When you take a bath, gently retract your foreskin and clean it with water. It is not necessary to use soap. If you want to use soap, use a mild soap to prevent irritation.

Once you have washed thoroughly, you then roll the foreskin back over the glans.

Do it gentle as not to cause any injuries to the glans penis.

Common foreskin problems

Sometimes the foreskin may get infected and you may find it difficult to retract the foreskin.
You may notice redness and swelling over the tip. Sometimes there could be some discharge.

What to do?


    If you don’t clean regularly, a whitish substance called smegma can collect under the foreskin.

    Smegma is made up of the cells that once attached the foreskin to the head of the penis. As new cells form on the head of the penis and the foreskin’s inside fold, old cells collects under the foreskin.

    So if you see smegma under the foreskin you know that the separation from the head of the penis is occurring naturally.

    It can easily be cleaned by wiping. Otherwise excessive smegma may collect and cause discomfort and irritation.


    Phimosis is a condition in which the foreskin is abnormally tight(its opening is too small) it is difficult or not possible to retract it. This is called phimosis.

    It also cause “ballooning” at the foreskin when you pass urine.

    Usually this condition resolves as male develops into adulthood.

    As it does not slip over during erection, it may cause pain when boys get an erection.

    What to do?

    Consult a doctor. The doctor will do a proper examination and may suggest that you try to stretch your foreskin by retracting it regularly e.g when taking a bath and every time you urinate. It may take a few weeks for improvement. Sometimes the doctor may suggest use of steroid creams. If the foreskin
    remains tight, your doctor may advice you to undergo circumcision.


    This is when the retracted foreskin remain retracted like a rubber band around the base of glans penis causes swelling and pain.

    That is why it is important not to leave you foreskin retracted for too long.

    What to do?

    • Consult a doctor immediately.

    • Your doctor may try to pull the foreskin gently after giving you some painkiller.

    • However if that fails, the doctor may perform emergency circumcision.


    You may occasionally injure your foreskin. The commonest injury is when the foreskin gets caught when you zip up your trousers.

    To prevent such accidents; always wear an underwear!


    • Consult a doctor.

    • Your doctor may prescribe medications to apply.

    • If severe your doctor may give oral antibiotics.


    The foreskin may appear red and feels sore. It could be due to forced retraction or any irritation.  Irritation from strong soap may also cause inflammation.

    What to do?

    Always avoid soap bubbles bath or any strong soaps. Avoid forcefully retracting the foreskin.

Last Reviewed : 29 Mei 2014
Writer : Dr. Thiyagar Nadarajaw
Accreditor : Dr. Hargeet Kaur A/P Basant Singh