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07 Jan

Burning with foreskin
Good day, When should a toddlers (4 and a half years old) foreskin retract? He is starting to complain that it burns and it is a bit red. No problem with urinating. For me there is no sign of the tip opening soon.
Answer
Expert
childhood diseases
Paediatrician

07 Jan

Thank you for your important question. There is no definite age at which the foreskin will retract. The foreskin cannot pull back because it is still attached to the glans which is the name for the the tip of the penis. This is perfectly normal for about the first 2 to 6 years. At any stage during this period from 2 to 6 years, the foreskin starts to separate naturally from the tip of the penis. The foreskin of some boys can take even longer to separate, but this does not mean that there is a problem and it usually will separate by itself at a later age. Never try to force the foreskin back before it is ready because this may be painful. and sometimes can damage the foreskin. Importantly you mention that your son has absolutely no problem with passing urine.  There is a  condition called phimosis where the foreskin is too tight to be pulled back over the tip of the penis. This is not usually a problem unless the child has difficulty with passing urine or the tip of the penis is red and sore or there is a definite swelling of the tip of the penis. Difficulty in passing urine is shown by the stream of urine  being poor and the urine only dribbles out or the tip of the penis balloons out when passing urine. This condition is called balanitis which is inflammation of the head of the penis A discharge may be noticed under the  foreskin. This can be easily treated by gentle washing of the penis and using an antibiotic ointment such as Nu-Ban. Sometimes surgery (a circumcision) is needed when the foreskin is painfully tight and there is definite difficulty with passing urine or there are repeated definite infections of the tip of the penis. Your son does not appear to have these problems, so gentle washing of his penis when he is in the bath is all that is needed and you can apply a little Bepanthen or other soothing ointment to the tip of his penis. If the other problems that are mentioned above start to occur, he should be seen by your GP.
The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical examination, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.
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