What is paraphimosis?

Paraphimosis means that the foreskin is pulled away from the head of the penis and can’t be pulled back to cover the head of the penis. It is a medical emergency. This only happens with an uncircumcised penis.

A foreskin that can’t be pulled down over the head of the penis gets swollen and can cause such a tight ring around the penis that it cuts off blood flow and can damage the penis.

What is the cause?

Paraphimosis may be caused by:

  • Not returning the foreskin to a normal position after cleaning or urinating
  • Infections of the penis or urinary tract, which can cause swelling, irritation, and scarring
  • Trauma to the area

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms may include:

  • Pain and swelling
  • Not being able to pull the foreskin back over the tip of the penis
  • Bluish or dark red color of the tip of the penis

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history and examine you.

How is it treated?

Treatment of paraphimosis depends on the cause and how severe your symptoms are. Treatment usually involves moving the foreskin back over the head of the penis. This is usually done by a healthcare provider while using medicine to relax you and keep you from feeling pain.

You may also need treatment for infections, swelling, or irritation of the penis. If these treatments do not correct the problem, you may need surgery to:

  • Make a small slit in the side of the foreskin to enlarge the opening. This allows the foreskin to move back over the head of the penis.
  • Remove the foreskin completely, called a circumcision.

How can I take care of myself?

Follow the full course of treatment prescribed by your healthcare provider. Ask your provider:

  • How and when you will hear your test results.
  • How long it will take to recover.
  • If there are activities you should avoid and when you can return to normal activities.
  • How to take care of yourself at home.
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them.

Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.

How can I help prevent paraphimosis?

To help prevent the problem from happening again:

  • When moving the foreskin to clean the penis, do it gently, and return the foreskin to its normal place when you are finished cleaning.
  • Gently return your foreskin to its normal place after bathing urinating, or sexual activity.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-10-16
Last reviewed: 2014-10-16
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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