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Phimosis Treatment

Phimosis is a condition where the foreskin becomes too tight to retract completely. It can make it difficult to expose the glans for hygiene, urination, and sexual activity. While it is more common in young children, it can also occur in adults. Treatment options include gentle retraction exercises, steroid creams, stretching exercises, preputioplasty, and circumcision. Consulting a doctor is crucial for accurate diagnosis and a tailored treatment plan.

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What is Phimosis?

Phimosis is the term used for tight foreskin. You cannot pull the foreskin back to see the tip of the penis. Sometimes it folds back when the penis is lax but unable to withdraw when the penis is hard. Usually, phimosis does not remain the same as with each erection. There is minor trauma to the foreskin. This leads to a loss of elasticity due to scarring. In adults, sexually transmitted infections or balanitis (foreskin infection) can be associated with phimosis.

Skin conditions can also cause a tight foreskin:

  1. Balanitis Xerotica Obliterans (BXO), also called Lichen sclerosis (Read more about BXO)
  2. Lichen planus – a non-infectious skin condition that may affect the foreskin
  3. Eczema– long-term skin problems

Cleaning the foreskin is important to prevent infection. It is a good idea to wash the foreskin with mild soap or warm salty water when you take a shower or bath.

This will help to keep the foreskin clean. 

Grading of Phimosis

There are six grades of phimosis, with scores:

  • Grade 0: Foreskin pulls back fully
  • Grade 1: foreskin can withdraw, but tight behind the head of the penis
  • Grade 2: Partially exposed of the head of the penis, the tight inner foreskin limits the retraction
  • Grade 3: Partial retraction: the wee hole is just visible
  • Grade 4: Slight retraction, but the head of the penis is fully covered
  • Grade 5: Completely no retraction of the foreskin at all

Note: Scores 4-5 may need a surgical solution.

Appearance of Foreskin

There are four appearances with the score:

  • Grade 0: Normal foreskin
  • Grade 1: Fissure or skin splitting at the tip of the foreskin
  • Grade 2: Partially surrounded by a white scar
  • Grade 3: Lichen Sclerosis or Balanitis xerotica obliterans: severe scarring, associated with occasionally bleeding

Score 2-3 showed BXO phimosis (Kikirosv et al., PSI (1993) 8:329-332).

How to Cure Phimosis

Tight foreskin treatment depends on age as well as the degree of phimosis.

Phimosis can be treated with the following:

  1. Steroid cream or ointment  
  2. Stretching exercises in the early stages.
  3. Stretching by phimosis stretching rings (Phimostretch)

The stretching of a scarred foreskin may produce further tearing and scarring. There is no scientific evidence that it produces treatment for diseased and unhealthy tight foreskin.

Different kinds of phimosis creams are used in some cases with limited success. If phimosis symptoms become worse with time, BXO must be excluded. Adults can use a condom and lubricants during sexual activities in the presence of mild phimosis.

If sex with phimosis is painful, then you may require urgent treatment. Phimosis home treatment is possible with a healthy foreskin by daily cleaning, washing, stretching exercises, and clearing the normal dry secretion called “smegma”.

Infection with tight foreskin requires treatment like antibiotics or to exclude sexually transmitted infections disease by GUM clinic (Sexual Health Clinic) or your GP.

Suppose there is a fungal infection that is causing mild phimosis. This can be treated with a combination of antifungal cream and steroid cream. In adults with diabetes with phimosis, circumcision is the preferred treatment due to recurrent fungal infection or possible BXO.

There are alternatives to full circumcisions, such as topical steroid cream, frenulum excision, V-Y plasty operation called preputioplasty, frenuloplasty, partial circumcision, or other medical treatments.

These are personal preferences and can be discussed further with our specialist – Dr Khan, and London consultant urologists at a dedicated specialist circumcision clinic in London.

When Will Surgical Treatment Required?

A tight foreskin can be stuck behind the head of the penis (glans) due to the presence of a phimotic ring. This is called paraphimosis, which requires urgent treatment.

Phimosis cure in adulthood can be done with steroids, preputioplasty, and circumcision. Phimosis surgery can retain the foreskin by preputioplasty. Circumcision remains the standard surgical option for tight foreskin, especially BXO phimosis.

We take all phimosis patients from the UK and abroad. 

PS: This information is for guidance only. This is not a replacement for professional medical advice. Please call us for a video consultation for £150 advice at +447527314081 without obligation.

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