Some of the more common conditions affecting the foreskin include the following:
• Phimosis. A man with phimosis is unable to pull back his foreskin. He may have swelling and redness in the area, trouble urinating, and painful erections. The condition can be caused by an infection, inflammation, or scarring.
Treatment for phimosis depends on the cause and the severity. In mild cases, men might use an ointment that softens the foreskin. Others may use antifungal or antibiotic medications. However, advanced cases of phimosis usually require surgery.
• Paraphimosis. This condition occurs when a man cannot pull his foreskin forward to its original position. It remains retracted (pulled back), not covering the head of the penis. This can lead to swelling and pain.
Men with paraphimosis should see a doctor immediately. If the case is mild, doctor may be able to compress the penis head and push the foreskin forward. In more severe cases, surgery is necessary.
Left untreated, paraphimosis may interfere with blood flow to the penis tip. A man can develop gangrene and lose the tip of his penis.
• Balanoposthitis. Balanoposthitis is a combination of two conditions: balanitis (inflammation of the glans, or tip, of the penis) and posthitis (inflammation of the foreskin). The two often occur together. Symptoms of balanoposthitis include red lesions, skin discoloration, and hardened skin.
Balanoposthitis can be caused by bacterial infections, fungal infections, or other inflammatory conditions of the skin. It is usually treated with antibiotic or antifungal medications. In severe or recurring cases, surgery may be necessary.
Medical problems of the foreskin can often be prevented with proper hygiene.