The penis is attached to a sheath of skin called the foreskin. As a boy gets older, the foreskin loosens and he is able to pull back (retract) the foreskin. As a boy becomes more aware of his body, he will most likely discover how to retract his own foreskin. The majority of boys at age 16 will have foreskin they can fully retract.
Once the foreskin is able to retract naturally, it can be cleaned during routine bath time. Proper care can help prevent many common foreskin problems.
How to clean the foreskin
- Gently pull the foreskin back. Never retract forcibly. Forcing the foreskin to retract before it is ready may harm the penis. It can cause pain, bleeding, and tears in the skin.
- Clean under the foreskin with soap and water during bath time. Mild soap works well. There is no need for special cleansers or cotton swabs.
- Rinse and dry beneath the foreskin thoroughly.
- Gently pull the foreskin back over the head of the penis.
As your son gets older, encourage him to continue to care for his foreskin. Proper care is part of healthy hygiene.
When to talk to your child’s doctor
Talk to your child’s doctor if your son experiences any of the following problems:
- Discomfort while urinating
- The foreskin fills with urine or balloons during urination
- The foreskin becomes red, itchy, or swollen
- Unable to retract the foreskin. He may have a condition called phimosis, in which the foreskin is too tight and closes the penis glans.
- Once the foreskin is able to retract naturally, it can be cleaned during routine bath time.
- As your son gets older, encourage him to continue to care for his foreskin.
- Proper care is part of healthy hygiene. It can also prevent foreskin problems.
- If your son experiences discomfort while urinating, ballooning or redness of foreskin, talk to your doctor.