Caring for an uncircumcised penis

The foreskin covers the head (glans) of a boy’s penis. During the early years of a boy’s life, the foreskin starts to separate from the glans, but may not be fully retractable (meaning it can be pulled back) until a boy is 3 to 5 years old, or even until after puberty. This is a natural process that occurs over time. You do not need to do anything to make it happen.

An uncircumcised penis is easy to keep clean and requires no special care:

  • Keep your baby’s penis clean by gently washing the area during his bath. Do not try to pull back the foreskin. Never force it.
  • When your son is old enough, teach him to keep his penis clean as you’re teaching him how to keep the rest of his body clean.
  • When the foreskin separates, skin cells will be shed and new ones will develop to replace them. These dead skin cells will work their way down the penis through the tip of the foreskin and may look like white, cheesy lumps. These are called smegma. If you see them under the skin, you don’t need to force them out. Just wipe them away once they come out.
  • When the foreskin is fully retractable, teach your son to wash underneath it each day.