Circumcision is a surgical procedure that involves partial or complete removal of the foreskin (prepuce) of the penis.
A baby boy’s foreskin doesn’t retract (pull back) until he is around two years old or older. At this age the foreskin should start to separate naturally from the head of the penis. Full separation usually occurs by the age of five years, although for some boys this can take longer. Never try to pull the foreskin back when you clean around your baby’s genitals. Forcing back the foreskin may cause it to tear, which can cause problems for your little boy.
Although rare, there are some conditions that may lead to the need for circumcision
This is a condition where the opening of the foreskin is narrowed, preventing retraction. This is quite normal in babies and toddlers, but if it persists in an older child the skin may take on a white, scarred appearance. Often the foreskin will be seen to balloon when the child passes urine. If the phimosis causes painful urination, irritation or bleeding from the edge of the foreskin, circumcision may be advised.
This is an infection of the foreskin and head of the penis (glans). Sometimes there is a discharge of pus between the foreskin and the glans. Treatment involves simple hygiene measurers, painkilling medication and the application of antibiotic cream. Recurrent balanitis may be a reason for circumcision.
The circumcision of male children is a central feature of both Judaism and Islam. It is also important in many African and New World cultures.
When circumcision is necessary for medical reasons it is carried out in hospital, as a day case, under general anaesthetic. It is a simple procedure and your child will be allowed home once he has passed urine.
If your baby has been circumcised, you can keep his penis clean as a part of his normal bathing. After the bath put some petroleum jelly on his penis to protect it from rubbing against his nappy.
It's best to allow as much air as possible to circulate around your baby's penis while it's healing. So let him have some time without his nappy on.
Your baby’s circumcised penis may take up to six weeks to heal. For the first few days after circumcision your baby’s penis may look quite red and swollen and he may require pain relief such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, in the correct dosage for his age, for a few days.
Complications of circumcision include infection of the skin, or a urine infection and bleeding. Infection of the skin will lead to persistent redness, soreness and swelling of the head of the penis. Urinary infection will lead to pain when passing urine. If you suspect your child has any complications following surgery see your doctor.