Phimosis treatment: ointment or surgery?  (and other options)

Phimosis treatment: ointment or surgery? (and other options)


There are several forms of treatment for phimosis, which must be evaluated and advised by a urologist or pediatrician, according to the degree of phimosis. For milder cases, only small exercises and ointments can be used, while for more serious cases, surgery may be necessary.

Phimosis is the inability to retract the skin of the penis to expose the glans, which creates the sensation that there is a ring at the tip of the penis that prevents the skin from sliding normally. After birth, it is common for babies to have this type of problem, but up to 3 years of age, the skin on the penis usually comes off spontaneously.

When left untreated, phimosis can persist into adulthood and increase the risk of infections. See how to identify phimosis and how to confirm the diagnosis.

Illustrative image number 5

The main treatment options for phimosis are:

1. Ointments for phimosis

To treat infantile phimosis, you can apply a corticosteroid ointment, such as Postec or Betnovate, which work by softening the foreskin tissue and thinning the skin, making it easier to move and clean the penis.

How to apply: wash your hands and then carefully retract the foreskin, as much as possible and without forcing. Put some of the ointment on the area and massage gently for about 30 seconds.

Generally, this ointment is applied 1 to 2 times a day for 4 to 8 weeks, or as directed by your pediatrician. See the ointments that may be recommended and how to apply them correctly.

2. Exercises

Performing exercises on the foreskin should always be guided by a pediatrician or urologist and consists of trying to move the skin of the penis slowly, stretching and shrinking the foreskin without forcing or causing pain. These exercises must be done for about 1 minute, 4 times a day, for a period of at least 1 month to obtain improvements.

3. Surgery

Surgery for phimosis, also known as circumcision or postectomy, involves removing excess skin to facilitate penile hygiene and reduce the risk of infections.

The surgery is performed by a pediatric urologist, lasts about 1 hour, includes the use of general anesthesia and is recommended for children between 7 and 10 years of age. Hospitalization lasts around 2 days, but the child can return to their normal routine 3 or 4 days after surgery, taking care to avoid sports or games that impact the region for around 2 to 3 weeks.

Check out more details about phimosis surgery.

4. Plastic ring placement

The placement of the plastic ring is done through a quick surgery, which lasts about 10 to 30 minutes and does not require anesthesia. The ring is inserted around the glans and under the foreskin, but without squeezing the tip of the penis. Over time, the ring cuts the skin and releases its movement, falling off after about 10 days.

During the period of using the ring, it is normal for the penis to become red and swollen, but it does not interfere with peeing. Furthermore, this treatment does not require bandages, and only an anesthetic ointment and lubricant are used to facilitate recovery.

Possible complications of phimosis

When left untreated, phimosis can cause complications such as frequent urinary tract infections, penile infections, increased chances of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, pain and bleeding during intimate contact, in addition to increasing the risk of penile cancer.

Author image

Coordinator of the Pediatrics Service at Hospital Lusíadas in Braga, Portugal, with CRM-PR 14218.

We regularly update our content with the latest scientific information, so that it maintains an exceptional level of quality.

  • UMASS MEMORIAL HEALTH CARE- DEPARTMENT OF UROLOGY. Betamethsone Ointment for Phimosis. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em 20 dez 2021
  • MINISTRY OF HEALTH. Phimosis: what it is, diagnosis, causes, symptoms and surgery. Available at: <>. Accessed on March 4, 2020
  • SHAHID, Sukhbir K. Review article: Phimosis in Children. ISRN Urology. 2012
  • LOURENAÇÃO, Pedro Luiz TA et al. Observation time and spontaneous resolution of primary phimosis in children. Rev Col Bras Cir. Vol 44. 5 ed; 505-510, 2017