What Is Paraphimosis?
Paraphimosis is a condition that only affects uncircumcised males.
It develops when the foreskin can no longer be pulled forward over the tip of
the penis. This causes the foreskin to become swollen and stuck, which may slow
or stop the flow of blood to the tip of the penis. The condition can lead to
serious complications if it isn’t treated.
Paraphimosis most often occurs when a healthcare provider handles
the foreskin improperly. They may not return the foreskin back to its normal position
after a physical exam or medical procedure.
Paraphimosis shouldn’t be confused with phimosis. Phimosis is a
condition in which the foreskin can no longer be pulled back from the tip of
the penis. It typically occurs in younger children, and it usually isn’t a
serious condition. Paraphimosis, however, is an emergency condition. Contact
your doctor or go the hospital immediately if you’re experiencing symptoms of paraphimosis.
What Are the Symptoms of Paraphimosis?
The main symptom of paraphimosis is the inability to return the
foreskin back to its normal position over the tip of the penis. The foreskin
and the tip of the penis may be swollen and painful. The tip of the penis may also
be dark red or blue due to a lack of blood flow.
Call your doctor right
away if you discover any of these symptoms.
What Causes Paraphimosis?
Paraphimosis most commonly occurs when a healthcare professional forgets
to pull the foreskin back to its normal position after a medical examination or
Other causes of paraphimosis include:
- having an infection
- experiencing physical trauma to the genital area
- pulling the foreskin back too forcefully
- having a foreskin that’s tighter than normal
- having a foreskin that has been pulled back for
an extended period
How Is Paraphimosis Diagnosed?
Your doctor can diagnose paraphimosis by simply performing a
physical examination and inspecting the penis. They’ll also ask you about your
symptoms and any other problems you may be experiencing with the penis or
How Is Paraphimosis Treated?
Treatment will vary depending on your age and the severity of your
condition. In general, the first step in treating paraphimosis is to reduce the
swelling. Your doctor may do the following:
- apply ice to the area
- wrap a bandage tightly around the penis
- use needles to drain pus or blood
- inject hyaluronidase, which is an enzyme that
helps reduce swelling
Your doctor may also make a small incision to relieve tension,
but they’ll only do this in severe cases.
Once the swelling is reduced, your doctor will move the foreskin
back into position. This can be very painful, so you’ll likely be given
painkillers before the procedure starts. Painkillers might include an
anesthetic, a nerve block, or an oral narcotic. During the procedure, your
doctor will first lubricate the penis and foreskin. They’ll then gently squeeze
the tip of the penis while also pulling down on the foreskin.
A complete circumcision,
or removal of the foreskin, may be necessary in very severe cases of
paraphimosis. This will also prevent the condition from happening again.
Make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully after either
procedure and to take any prescribed medications. Your doctor will teach you
how to clean and care for the tip of the penis after treatment.
Call your doctor right away if you develop a high fever and if you’re
still experiencing pain after treatment. These symptoms may indicate an
infection, which must be treated with antibiotics.
What Are the Potential Complications of Paraphimosis?
Paraphimosis may lead to
serious complications if it isn’t treated quickly. The condition can cause
reduced blood flow in the penis, which deprives the tissues of oxygen. When this
happens, paraphimosis can result in:
- a severe infection
- damage to the tip of the penis
- gangrene, or tissue
death, resulting in the loss of the tip of the penis
What Is the Outlook for People with Paraphimosis?
The chances of a full recovery are high when paraphimosis is
treated right away. Once the swelling is reduced and the foreskin is returned
to its normal position, most people recover without complications.
How Can Paraphimosis Be Prevented?
A complete circumcision can prevent paraphimosis. If you aren’t
circumcised, paraphimosis can be prevented by:
- practicing good hygiene and cleaning the tip of
the penis regularly
- always placing the foreskin back over the tip of
the penis after it has been pulled back for cleaning, sexual intercourse, or
- making sure that a healthcare provider has
pulled the foreskin back to its normal position after an exam or procedure
- never leaving the foreskin behind the tip of the
penis for extended periods of time