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Dr Phil: Penis Part 1: The Foreskin (video)

 Related articlesTight foreskinRed, sore and itchy penis; Doc Spot - Ballooning of the foreskin in young boys; Doc Spot - Circumcision  
Hello there, I’m Dr Phil Hammond. Welcome to
In this film we are talking about the penis, in fact this is the Penis Part 1 [The Foreskin] because I have decided to split the penis up into 3 parts. This is not something necessarily I would try at home, but there is a lot in a penis so it is worthy of a trilogy.
This is my penis [holds up prop] … it’s not actually mine, it belongs to my dog, but a top tip for penis preservation if you are a dog owner – always put your pants on before you say hello in the morning… thank you. 
Today we are talking about the little top end, this is the glans of the penis, the head of the penis, which looks a bit like Darth Vader’s helmet, and the bit that goes over it, which is the foreskin. Normally the glans does not come off, but it does with mine [see prop used in video].
Circumcision. Now you may not have a foreskin, yours may have been removed at birth with a process called circumcision that sometimes happens for religious reasons and sometimes for cultural reasons. In America for example, they remove a lot more foreskins at birth than they do in the UK. The arguments for removing the foreskin are that not having a foreskin reduces your risk of sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV and syphilis; it reduces your risk of getting urinary tract infections; and it reduces your risk of cancer of the penis. However, these conditions are quite rare anyway and you can dramatically reduce the risk of them by washing. If we were to cut off all the bits of our body that could turn nasty if we didn’t wash them then we wouldn’t have much of a body left. So, generally in the UK we tend to leave the foreskin be, but try to remember to wash behind it.  
There are one or two conditions that do mean you have to have your foreskin removed with a circumcision. One is BXO, which is a fancy name for a peculiar skin condition that causes a real thickening and scarring at the end of the penis. The foreskin itself goes all thick and white, it doesn’t pull back and it’s painful. Generally, you will need to have a circumcision. Just occasionally when you get into adulthood and you are unable to pull the penis back, you are getting lots of infections, or your stream is going all over the place like a wayward hose, that sometimes too is a reason for having a circumcision.
 What's normal, what's not? Babies are born with the foreskin covering the glans and it generally doesn’t start pulling back until about the age of 3 or 4, and sometimes a lot later than that. It’s not uncommon for boys of 13 or 14 still to have a little bit of a problem pulling the foreskin back. Once you get to about 15, or if you are getting lots of infections, or the stream is all over the place, it’s certainly worth going to see a doctor to discuss the options.
What to do with a tight foreskin. Generally, with a tight foreskin just sit in a bath and gently ease it back. Don’t force it, because if you tear it you'll make it worse and cause scarring. Just gently try to pull it back and give it a little wash underneath, because that’s really where the problems start with foreskins. It is lovely and dark and damp behind the foreskin, and if you don’t wash behind it you are asking for trouble. Not only do you get that rather unpleasant smegma cheesy smell, but a lot of women will say ‘I’m not putting that in my mouth’.  
How to keep your penis clean. So you need to wash behind the foreskin to keep it nice and clean. If you don’t wash behind the foreskin it increases the risk of infections, particularly thrush and also certain bacterial infections, because they like it where it is dark and moist. So it’s very important that you wash behind your foreskin regularly. You only need to use plain water for this. If you use a lot of detergent, shower gel or a lot of chemical you can actually irritate things and make things worse. Some men are super clean, they want to have a pristine helmet and they scrub behind there with a scrubbing brush and they put all sorts of chemicals on, and that causes a chemical irritation and can make it even worse. So all you need to do is use water to wash behind and wipe away all that smegma, and then dry it afterwards - hang it out to dry. You can dab it with a towel or you can use a hairdryer ...  not on too hot(!), just to dry it.
When to see a doctor. After washing, gently pull the foreskin back, because there is another condition called paraphimosis where you pull the foreskin back and it gets stuck. If you don’t pull it back again it can cause a tight band around the head of the penis and that can make this bit [the helmet/head] turn black. It is not a good look. The band has cut off its blood supply and you need to go to the hospital urgently to get that sorted out. If you practice good foreskin hygiene, you gently ease it back, in just about all boys eventually the foreskin will go back. If you are finding it’s red, it’s tender and it’s painful then you do need to go and see your GP. They may be able to diagnose thrush or a bacterial infection and give you some cream to sort it out. You may get one or two recurrent infections like this, but generally in time the foreskin will go back and it probably doesn’t need to be removed.
In Penis Part 2: Lumps and Bumps, I am going to be talking about sexually transmitted infections, lumps and bumps, and also some ordinary lumps that you can find on your penis that you might think are nasty things, but are in fact perfectly normal.

Written by: Dr Phil Hammond
Edited by: Dr Phil Hammond
Last updated: Friday, October 20th 2017

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Comments on this article

Posted by Joe on 15/04/2019 at 05:33

I have developed under foreskin. I have been cilibate for 25 years. It stings when I shower.

Posted by Optional on 24/11/2017 at 05:54

I have a white mucus under my foreskin that keeps returning even if I clean it thourly every day what’s up - what can I do to stop it

Posted by Optional on 19/06/2017 at 12:43

Hi. The problem with my penis is, when i try to pull back my foreskine, it stuck with forehead of my penis and when i force a little, it got down all the foreskin but during this process, it hurts a little. After pulling back my foreskine, i see smegma stuck underneath my forehead of penis, as well as on some portion of it too. Whenever i wash it with water and remove smegma as much as I can, the​ foreskin again stuck on forehead. I have found this since last day. And it stuck all over the time. I'm sexually inactive. Please help me.

Posted by Optional on 04/06/2017 at 07:36

I have skin penis problem . Skin penis becomes red and small scratches on the top of skin.

Posted by Optional on 17/02/2016 at 06:59

Im having white spots on foreskin .im scared they are not itchy.they very small of tiny spot on foreskin...I do masturbate....can u help me?

Posted by Optional on 06/11/2015 at 09:25

My problem is my foreskin of my penis is not going back while doing sex it is paining so what I have to do

Posted by Optional on 22/08/2015 at 06:55

It hurts I pull my foreskin back it feels really tight and never use to, the doctor gave me anti fungal cream, not I or my girlfriend have slept with anyone else but eachother we are both clean, this problem has only occurred over the last few months what should I do, I have been to two different dralready

Posted by Krish on 05/06/2015 at 12:23

Though blatant and equally funny, most useful article on health care I have ever read

Posted by Optional on 19/01/2015 at 03:24

my panis is swelling what can i do now ?

Posted by Optional on 19/01/2015 at 12:56

I have red blotches on under the foreskin on the penis, which are sore and won't go away with washing or soothing cream. please advise as to what it may be

Posted by Optional on 14/12/2014 at 09:22

what could be done if the foreskin has already developed white colouration and small white lumps is circumcision necessary or are there medicines that can be applied

Posted by Optional on 04/02/2013 at 09:24

After pulling the foreskin back I am not able to pull it back over and to make matters worse the glands have come out and it is very uncomfortable, what do you advise?

Posted by Optional on 09/01/2013 at 02:22

Under the head of my penis there is line where the foreskin begins its split right under the head and it hurts to press on it help please

Posted by Optional on 25/01/2012 at 12:00

hi, my penis colour has becoming white & day by day increasing what i can do to make the colour normal as my skine colour , person who see they are hesitating & refusing to sex with me

Posted by Stuart on 04/01/2012 at 10:51

Hi , I have what looks like a small dark birth mark just on the backside forskin area of my penis, could this of been caused through masturbating causing friction ? , I think it has been there for quite some time , it was brought to my attention because my partner noticed it in the bath I used to masturbate alot before meeting my partner I still do but not as much! Do u know what this mark could be ??

Posted by dominic on 11/11/2011 at 11:53

hi i have a problem with my penis and im wanting some help to sort it what the problem is that my foreskin is atached to my head of my penis and ime getting white stuff in side

Posted by Optional on 25/10/2011 at 06:43

My husband is circumsized, but for a few years nowand especially recently, his penis head goes into is body making his penis look very small and looks uncircumcized. He also says it is very uncomfortable and hurts. What can he do? It is really hurting his confidence and our relationship.

Posted by robert on 05/09/2011 at 03:00

was given oral sex and fore skin swollen.need to what to do

Posted by Optional on 31/08/2011 at 11:48

I i dont think i have phimosis as whenn i tried to pull it back it go stuck. I noticed that my foreskin is connected to the top of the penis with a little line, scared to tell my parents. Feel that it is too embarresing please help!!

Posted by Discharge (brownish) possibly from bladder on 09/07/2011 at 05:51

This worrying discharge started yesterday. I had been on a cruise and when I returned home with a bad cold I took ibuprofen to bring down my temperature, sudafed to control the congestion and cough medicine. All was well until I went to the toilet yesterday and found I had this discharge instead of urine. It was very bad to start with but today the discharge has reduced but not stopped.

Posted by Suleyman on 05/07/2011 at 08:40

I have a skin penis problem as I have realized early this week. its quiet red and very ichy I cant just stop scracting it. what to do ? any advise?