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Q&A: How To Clean An Uncircumcised Penis (Video)

Posted Mar 20 2010 7:45am

There is a great deal of controversy between many pro-intact groups on how to properly clean an uncircumcised penis and there is a lot of information on the Internet now that is contradicting. What should you do when cleaning a boy’s intact penis and what shouldn’t you do?  

Question: I had a baby boy 7 months ago (our third) and we didn’t get him circumcised. My question is, what so we need to know for teaching him about proper care when he gets older? I have looked it up and there is lots of contradicting information. Does he need to pull back the skin to clean it or not? Any other information about this issue would be great!!!  

–YouTube Viewer  

Click here to view the embedded video.

  

When a boy is young, the foreskin is fused to the head of his penis, called the glans, and won’t easily retract. This is completely normal and healthy. When cleaning a boy’s penis at this stage, it is imperative to never forcibly retract the foreskin. If it doesn’t move easily, don’t move it. Wash what you can see thoroughly with gentle soap and warm water during bathtime and with a wet wipe at diaper changes. Until the foreskin retracts on its own, there is nothing more that needs to be done at this stage to keep an intact penis clean.  

The foreskin begins retracting easily at a different age for everyone. There is no set “age” when a foreskin begins retracting. Many people believe it is not until puberty, while others believe it is more in the toddler years. Some boys will retract as early as 3-18 months while others won’t retract until they’re adults. It varies from child to child. When the foreskin begins retracting, it is time to pull back the foreskin during cleaning and rinse it with warm water. If your child is very young when this happens, this is something you will do until he is old enough to do it himself. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that “for the first few years, an occasional retraction with cleansing beneath is sufficient.” If he is older when his foreskin retracts, instruct him on how to pull the foreskin back himself and wash underneath it.  

An intact  penis produces a good amount of a white, waxy substance called smegma underneath the foreskin. Smegma isn’t harmful at all, but it can cause a very strong odor to come from the penis. Washing gently underneath the foreskin is an important part of daily hygeine for boys and men. The American Academy of Pediatrics has published and regularly updates guidelines on how to care for a boy’s uncircumcised penis:  

If your son’s foreskin separates before he reaches puberty, an occasional retraction with cleansing beneath will do.

Once your son starts puberty, he should clean beneath his foreskin as part of his daily routine, just like washing his hair and brushing his teeth.  

Teach your son to clean his foreskin in the following way:

Step 1: Gently pull the foreskin back away from the end of the penis.

Step 2: Rinse underneath the foreskin with soap and warm water.

Step 3: Pull the foreskin back over the penis.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical suspecialists, and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety, and well-being of infants, children, adolescents, and young adults.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics, Updated 6/07

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