Tools and Resources

Uncircumcised penis: Is special care needed?

I'm not planning to have my newborn son circumcised. How should I care for his uncircumcised penis?

In an uncircumcised penis, a fold of skin (foreskin) covers the head of the penis. If you choose not to have your son circumcised, simply wash his uncircumcised penis with soap and water during each bath. There's no need to use cotton swabs or special cleansers. Treat the foreskin gently, being careful not to pull it back forcibly. Consult the doctor if your son seems to have discomfort while urinating especially if the foreskin fills with urine or balloons out during urination or the foreskin becomes red, itchy or swollen.

As your son gets older, the foreskin of his uncircumcised penis will begin to separate from the tip of the penis. This allows the foreskin to be pulled back (retracted). Some boys can retract the foreskin by age 5 or even earlier, while others can't do so until puberty. As soon as the foreskin can be retracted, it's important to clean beneath it regularly. Teach your son to:

  • Gently pull back the foreskin
  • Clean beneath the foreskin with mild soap and water
  • Rinse and dry beneath the foreskin thoroughly
  • Pull the foreskin back over the head of the penis

Encourage your son to follow the same procedure through adulthood as part of his daily bathing routine.

Updated: 2/24/2012

© 1998-2014 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.com," "EmbodyHealth," "Enhance your life," and the triple-shield Mayo Clinic logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.

Legal restrictions and terms of use applicable to content provided to this site by MayoClinic.com/Mayo Clinic Health Information. Use thereof signifies your agreement to these terms of use.