The foreskin is a piece of skin that covers the top of the penis. Foreskin problems such as tightness, ballooning and redness are very common. It can affect boys of all ages. Inadequate or incorrect information can cause confusion and anxiety to both patients and parents. This article will help parents to get some understanding of common foreskin problems in boys.

Tight Foreskin [Phimosis]

In boys, tight foreskin, also called phimosis, is very common. Because of the tightness, sometimes the foreskin balloons at the time of passing urine. At birth, the foreskin is normally tight. However, as the boys get older, fluid is produced from the undersurface of the foreskin and makes it freely mobile. By the time the boys are around 10 years of age, the foreskin is completely free and mobile. Beyond the age of 10 years, if foreskins are not freely mobile, treatment is usually recommended.


Sometimes boys forget to pull the foreskin forward (back to normal) after cleaning or passing urine. The foreskin becomes red, swollen and appears like a balloon around the head of the penis (Figure 7). This is called paraphimosis and it is an emergency requiring surgery. If noticed early, the foreskin can be gently pulled forward to a normal position under anaesthesia, otherwise, the foreskin may need to be removed – circumcision.

Inflamed Foreskin [Balanitis]

Inflammation of the tip of the penis and foreskin is usually caused by chemical irritation, bacterial or fungal infection. The tip of the foreskin becomes red, swollen and painful. After some time the inflamed foreskin becomes tight. Antibiotic and antifungal creams can be applied, along with regular warm sitz bath (antiseptic) and it usually works well.

Balanitis xerotica obliterans [BXO]

The infected or inflamed foreskin should always be watched carefully, as they can result in a tight scar formation - BXO. Steroid creams applied over the foreskin may improve the tightness, but not in all patients. In many patients, the tightness comes back immediately after stopping the cream applications. Most patients need circumcision (removing the foreskin) which will cure the patient.

Very rarely, the infection from the tip and head of the penis can spread into the whole penis. The whole penis appears swollen and red and this condition is called balanoposthitis. Oral antibiotics (tablets and syrup) are usually not enough. Antibiotics given via the veins (intravenous) will reduce the redness and swelling quickly

Foreskin Cysts

Cysts in the foreskin are very common. The most common cysts are white in color and move along with the foreskin. They are not painful at all but can cause lot of anxiety. The normal fluid produced from the foreskin and glans (smegma) is trapped under the foreskin and forms a cyst. These cysts resolve on their own and do not need any surgery.

Our team at Practo Care Surgeries (PCS) are experts in end-to-end surgical care for over 50+ ailments. Connect with a Practo Care Surgeon, to find out the best treatment option for problems of the Foreskin. Book an appointment today.

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered  a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.