When to worry about a tight foreskin – phimosis and paraphimosis

Phimosis and paraphimosis are conditions that sound very similar but have very different treatment requirements.

Phimosis is the medical term for a foreskin that is too tight to be pulled back. It usually isn’t something to worry about unless it is causing you pain or difficulty while urinating or having sex.

Paraphimosis is when a tight foreskin is pulled behind the head of the penis and can then not be moved forward. Paraphimosis can be a serious condition that requires urgent medical attention.

What are the causes of phimosis?

Male babies are born with a tight foreskin as it is attached to the penis head. Uncircumcised boys will usually develop retractable foreskins by the time they reach their teens.

In adults, phimosis is caused by infection, inflammation, a skin condition or a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI). It can also be caused by an injury to the penis.

What are the causes of paraphimosis?

Paraphimosis is considered to be a serious urological condition as it can lead to an obstruction of blood flow to the glans of the penis.

Paraphimosis has several causes. These include piercings, genital trauma, sexual activities, infection, scars and diabetes. The symptoms of paraphimosis are pain, swelling, redness, an inability to urinate and blackened tissue on the penis.

The chances of a full recovery from paraphimosis are high if medical attention is sought quickly. Treatment will depend upon your age and the severity of the condition.

When to seek treatment for phimosis

Treatment of phimosis can prevent paraphimosis. It can also help stop further complications such as infections and can reduce pain, improve urinary function and improve your sex life.

How your phimosis is treated will depend upon the cause and how severe it is. Treatment options include creams and ointments and the use of lubrication and topical steroids. If an infection is diagnosed, antibiotics or antifungal medications may be prescribed.

There are surgical options for treating phimosis. The procedures are relatively minor, such as a dorsal slit or preputioplasty and frenuloplasty, where some cutting and stretching of the foreskin is undertaken. Circumcision would be considered as a last resort.

For more information or to book a consultation, contact the experts at Harrogate Urology today.

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