A lot of mums are clueless when it comes to caring for their son’s penis, so it’s important to know what to look out for, how to prevent issues occurring and when to seek help. Here are seven common penis problems explained.
7 common penis problems in little boys
- Appears red
- Itchy or rash
- Urinary tract infection (UTI)
- Painful foreskin
- Stuck foreskin
- Penile adhesions
Most small boys are a bundle of energy constantly running around, riding scooters and bikes, jumping out of trees and anything else that involves excitement or potential danger. While normal, it does mean they’re often more prone to accidents, and that includes injuries down below. When it comes to the penis, often it may just get bruised and be a bit painful for a while, however if it’s been crushed, cut or torn in any way, medical attention is required immediately (the same applies for the testicles and scrotum).
2. Appears red
Don’t be alarmed if your son’s penis looks quite red at the tip, this is usually the result of an irritation such as a nappy being left on for too long, rubbing from swimming shorts, or soap residue stuck in the foreskin. To prevent this, always be sure to rinse your son’s penis carefully (or show him how to do it, once old enough), change nappies regularly, or encourage them to wear undies under shorts and pants and change out of their swimmers (if toilet trained). Another cause of a red penis is balanitis, an infection which might also give them urination pain. Topical creams and warm baths can help with this, but best to speak to your doctor first if you suspect it might be this.
3. Itchy or a rash
Your son may come out in a rash on their penis, complain of it being itchy or try to scratch it more than usual, if so, it’s best to investigate. It could be anything from a tick or fleas, to a simple heat rash or irritation caused by body lotions, washing detergent or outdoor plants which might go away by itself or require you to use topical products. Little boys tend to not have the cleanest of hands, and once toilet trained they’ll be doing a lot of hand to penis contact, so try and encourage them to wash their hands regularly and see your doctor if the itch or rash doesn’t go away.
4. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
UTIs are particularly common for uncircumcised little boys in their first year of life. This is because bacteria can get trapped under their foreskin which then spreads to the urinary tract. Signs that your son might have an infection include high fevers, irritability, pain when urinating, poor feeding and strong smelling urine. If you suspect a UTI you should speak to your doctor immediately, if left untreated (especially in very young infants) it can cause kidney damage. The good news is it can be treated effectively with antibiotics and it works very quickly.
5. Painful foreskin
The foreskin is the layer of skin covering the head of the penis and it’s attached from birth. Unless circumcised, the foreskin will separate and can then be pulled back and down the shaft. This usually happens by the age of two although can take longer, and for some boys it can cause a fair amount of pain until separated completely. Time usually resolves the issue, however if it’s particularly painful or uncomfortable, doctors may recommend your son do penile gymnastics (yes it’s an actual thing!), which is exactly what you think it is – pushing the foreskin down and up several times a day to loosen the foreskin (and usually we’re telling them to keep their hands OFF their privates!).
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6. Stuck foreskin
Sometimes when the foreskin is rolled down it gets stuck and can’t be brought back up. This is often incredibly painful and requires immediate medical attention, so don’t ignore this if you see it or your son shows it to you. Also remember that not all little boys will be forthcoming with their penis problems, so you may need to look for signs of pain and discomfort and question them if you’re concerned.
7. Penile adhesions
While many penis problems result in children who aren’t circumcised, there are a few issues that can arise from having the foreskin cut off and one of these is penile adhesions. Where the body tissue was cut the edges sometimes can stick to the head of the penis like a thin layer of film, making it look like there was no circumcision. In most cases the adhesions are completely painless and resolve over time as the penis grows, so often no treatment is required.
When to seek help
If you’re ever concerned about your son’s penis, then it’s best to speak to your doctor or a health professional immediately. The key signs that your son will need medical attention include:
- The penis is swollen and/or very red
- There is blood or a pus-like discharge coming from the penis
- Your son cries or is upset when urinating (especially if they also have a fever)
- The foreskin is stuck and can’t be rolled back up
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- Weighing it up: Sorting through the pros and cons of circumcision
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