Paraphimosis is a condition that only affects uncircumcised men. 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.
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.
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 procedure.
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 Treated?
Treatment will vary depending on the patient’s age and the severity of his condition. In general, the first step in treating paraphimosis is to reduce the swelling. The 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
The doctor may also make a small incision to relieve tension, but they’ll only do this in severe cases.
Once the swelling is reduced, the doctor will move the foreskin back into position. This can be very painful, so the patient will be given painkillers before the procedure starts. Painkillers might include an anesthetic, a nerve block, or an oral narcotic.
During the procedure, the 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 the doctor’s instructions carefully after the procedure and to take any prescribed medications. The doctor will teach the patient how to clean and care for the tip of the penis after treatment.
Call the doctor right away if you develop a high fever and if the patient is 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 to 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
How Can Paraphimosis Be Prevented?
A complete circumcision can prevent paraphimosis. If the patient is not 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 urination
- 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