Having a tight foreskin, a condition called phimosis, is a health problem more common than you think.
It can have long-term negative effects on both body and mind, and can affect a person’s sex life. Let’s find out more about it, including the worrying symptoms, causes, and how to treat the condition.
What Is Phimosis?
It is a medical condition in which the praeputium of the penis is too tight to be pulled back over the glans. It is normal in babies, toddlers, and children under the age of 16. Typically, the condition resolves itself by the age of 16 in 99 percent of the cases. 
In older children where the condition is still present, it is believed that having a tight foreskin is the result of scarring due to skin conditions such as balanitis or balanitis xerotica obliterans. Phimosis is not considered a problem unless it causes symptoms.
In older children and adults, it varies in severity. Some are able to partially retract the foreskin, while in others, the praeputium is so tight they are unable to retract it even when the penis is in a flaccid state.
What Are the Symptoms of Phimosis?
- The foreskin is so tight it gets stuck either over the tip of the penis or behind it.
- When urinating, the praeputium will expand like a balloon.
- The stream of urine may be weaker than normal, and blood may be present.
- Painful erection.
- Urinary tract infections.
- Foreskin pain; may come with discharge too.
- The presence of a white ring at the opening of the praeputium.
- Painful swelling in the penis, most commonly in the head of the penis.
What Causes a Tight Foreskin?
Often, phimosis is the result of infections that scar the foreskin. They can make the skin less stretchy and, as a result, the tight praeputium is hard to pull back.
Speaking of pulling and stretching, forcefully moving the foreskin is also a common cause. These two actions can cause tears and inflammation in the penis that may lead to the condition.
Certain medical conditions are also responsible for developing a tight praeputium. People suffering from diabetes are more likely to have an infection called balanitis, a common cause for the condition.
Aging is also a reason for a tight foreskin, and men that get fewer erections are more likely to develop it.
Warning: Using a penis pump the wrong way or pumping too hard in order to try to get even better results, can also lead to scar tissue building on your penis! The highest risk lies with homemade penis pumps! These should be avoided at all times!
How Is Phimosis Diagnosed?
A tight praeputium is diagnosed through physical examination of the penis. Doctors typically ask about the patient’s medical history, whether they sustained injuries to the penis, if they had any infections in the past, and if there’s pain during intercourse.
A urine test and a general blood test are often suggested to exclude infections and to test the glucose level. A swab from the foreskin may also be taken to check bacterial culture.
How Is Tight Foreskin Treated?
Steroid creams are often prescribed to soften the foreskin, but only if the scarring is mild. It does come with a disadvantage, however, as stopping the cream may result in a return of phimosis. If swabs show evidence of an infection, antibiotics may be suggested as well.
If other treatments have failed, surgical treatment such as circumcision and preputioplasty are the best options for treating this condition.
Circumcision is the partial or full removal of the praeputium, but it does carry a few risks such as infection or bleeding.
Preputioplasty is an effective treatment option for children with congenital phimosis. Several incisions are made into the tight foreskin in order to expose the head of the penis. This surgery is not typically used in adults.
Frenuloplasty is also a treatment option worth considering for those whose tightness is due to a short penile frenulum. However, in some of these cases, the short frenulum may also present some scarring, which is why circumcision may still be needed to solve the issue.
To avoid such problems developing, it’s important for men of any age to clean their penis regularly. This means washing it with warm water and gently pulling back the foreskin and washing underneath it. It’s best to use a mild soap to reduce the risk of irritation.
If you have a tight foreskin and are experiencing the symptoms described above, go see a doctor as soon as possible. Although an uncomfortable matter to discuss, this condition can occur to any uncircumcised man and there’s no reason to be ashamed to ask for help. It can be treated but only your doctor can choose the best method of treatment for your problem.
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