from the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers
(Back to the Care of Intact Boys Table of Contents Page)
|Stages of Puberty
It is the brain which tells our sex organs when to mature.
Our bodies are covered with skin. The skin on our
noses goes to their tips and the skin on our fingers and
toes goes to their tips. The penis, too, is covered with
skin. The fold of skin that covers and protects the glans
(head) of the penis is sometimes called the prepuce, but is
more commonly known as the foreskin.
The inside fold of the foreskin is mucous membrane
and keeps the surface of the glans soft, moist and
The foreskin contains a concentrated number of
blood vessels and nerve endings. The frenum which secures
the foreskin in its forward position, is continous with the
frenar band. This band of specialized tissue encircles the
foreskin where the inside and outside folds meet (at the
mucocutaneous junction) and is extremely sensitive.
The intact penis of an infant or child needs no
A child’s foreskin should never be retracted by
During the first few years of life, the foreskin
and glans are connected by a common membrane called the
synechia (just as the fingernail is attached to the
finger). This connective tissue dissolves naturally – a
process that should never be hurried.
The foreskin can be retracted when its inside
surface separates from the glans and the opening widens.
This usually happens by age 18. Even if the glans and
foreskin separate naturally in infancy, the foreskin still
may not be retractable because the opening in an infant’s
foreskin may be just large enough for the passage of
The first person to retract a child’s foreskin
should be the child himself. Once a boy discovers that his
foreskin is retractable (a wondrous discovery for an intact
child), he can easily learn to care for himself. A simple
explanation of “how to” may be helpful:
- Gently slip the foreskin back.
- Rinse the head of your penis and the inside fold
of your foreskin with warm water.
- Slip your foreskin back in place over the glans.
Answers to Your Questions:
- What causes my son’s foreskin to be red?
- Sometimes the tip of the foreskin becomes
reddened. This indicates the penis is irritated and the
foreskin is doing its job of protecting the sensitive glans
and urinary meatus (the opening for the passage of urine
and semen).When bacteria in the feces react with urine, they produce
ammonia, which burns the skin and causes ammoniacal
dermatitis, commonly known as diaper rash.Common reasons for a reddened foreskin are:
- Too much exposure to soiled diapers
- An inbalance of skin bacteria caused by:
- -too many bubble baths
- -swimming in highly clorinated water
- -soap on the genitals
- -laundry soap or detergent on clothing
- -antibiotic therapy (microbial flora can be
restored by eating yogurt with live culture.)
- Concentrated urine because the boy is not drinking
Drinking water, soaking in warm baths, and letting
children run around with bare bottoms to air their genitals
- What is the white lump under my son’s foreskin?
- The white lump is made up of the cells that once
attached the foreskin to the glans. As new cells form on
the glans and the foreskin’s inside fold, old cells form
pockets that eventually work their way to the tip of the
foreskin, where they are discharged and can eventually be
wiped away. The space they occupied becomes the preputial
space between the foreskin and the glans. So, if you see a
white lump under the foreskin you know that the separation
of the glans is occurring naturally.
- What is phimosis?
- The greek word phimosis means muzzled
and refers to a foreskin that cannot be retracted because
its opening is too small to expand over the head of the
penis. This is normal during infancy and childhood. The
foreskins of some males are not retractable until they are
in their late teens.
- Why does my son’s foreskin “balloon” when he urinates?
- This is another indication that the natural
separation of the glans is occurring. One elderly Irishman
tells how, as a boy he and his friends would stand in a
row, urinate, then squeeze the balloon to see who could
“shoot the farthest. As the preputial opening widens, most
boys decrease their chances of winning the game, but
increase their ability to retract their foreskins.
- What happens if someone retracts my son’s foreskin
- Forcing the foreskin back can cause pain, as well
as problems.Tearing the foreskin from the glans leaves an open
wound which can lead to infection.Raw surfaces touching each other can heal together
and form adhesions between the foreskin and the
Small tears in the opening of the foreskin can heal
to form non-elastic scar tissue, possibly causing
The foreskin can get “stuck” behind the glans
(paraphimosis). By squeezing the glans, the foreskin
can be brought forward again, without circumcision.
- How do I teach my son to wash?
- When a boy is old enough to bathe himself, he can
wash his penis just as he washes any other part of his
body.When a young boy pulls at his foreskin, he usually
pulls it outward. This is normal and natural and no cause
for concern; he won’t hurt himself. One day, he’ll pull
his foreskin back, and you can discuss retracting, washing,
and returning the foreskin to its forward position over the
glans. Telling your son about retractablility beforehand
will keep him from becoming alarmed the first time his
foreskin retracts.At puberty, you can let him know that with hormonal
activity comes new responsibility, including genital
NOCIRC has information about hygiene written
especially for intact boys.
Many doctors don’t know how to care for an intact
penis and recommend circumcision for any and every problem.
The National Organization of Circumcision Information
Resource Centers, which is dedicated to preserving and
protecting children’s normal natural wholeness, will be
happy to direct you to a doctor who understands the
foreskin’s functions and importance.
National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers
San Anselmo, CA 94979-2512 USA
Phone: 415-488-9883 Fax: 415-488-9660
The information in this pamphlet is not intended to replace
the advice and care of your pediatrician.