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Foreskin Care for Better Health

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The foreskin is more than just an extra flap of skin at the end of the penis. This bit of tissue, also known as the prepuce, plays an important role in penis health. From birth, it protects the glans penis (or head) from the outside world, helping to prevent injury and preserving sensitivity.

While circumcision, or surgical ablation of the foreskin, is common practice in a number of cultures, most males retain their foreskin. In order to prevent problems from developing and keep the skin clean and healthy, recognizing potential problems and carrying out adequate foreskin care is an important part of every man’s personal hygiene regimen.

General foreskin care

In babies, there is no need to wash under the foreskin; the area should simply be cleaned like any other part of the body. Changing wet or soiled diapers right away is important to prevent these materials from irritating sensitive skin.

As the foreskin begins to separate from the glans, younger boys can be taught to clean underneath to remove any built-up body fluids and dead skin cells that may accumulate. The foreskin should never be retracted forcefully, as this can result in tearing and the formation of scar tissue.

For most children, the foreskin retracts by age 2, although it is not uncommon for parts of it to stick; this is usually resolved by the time the child reaches puberty.

Older teens and adults should retract the foreskin fully and clean away any smegma each time they shower. The skin underneath should be allowed to dry thoroughly before replacing the sheath, as damp skin is more prone to bacterial and fungal infections.

Common problems that can affect the foreskin

Some of the most common issues that can affect the prepuce are as follows:

  • Phimosis – the foreskin cannot be retracted fully. This can result in chronic infections, tearing and pain during intercourse, and impaired urination. Men can often resolve the problem by gently retracting the skin a little bit at a time – in the shower is a good idea – until the sheath can be pulled back normally. In some cases, surgical treatment may be the best option.
  • Paraphimosis – the foreskin becomes stuck behind the crown of the penis. This is generally treated as an emergency condition, as the trapped skin may cut off circulation to the glans.
  • Zipper injury – nearly every male will experience this painful problem at least once. Catching the foreskin or any other part of the penis in a zipper can be excruciatingly painful, but rarely causes serious problems. Men who catch a bit of skin in their jeans should never try to pull it out forcefully; oiling the zipper and skin and waiting for it to slip out on its own is the best option.
  • Balanitis – Irritation and infection of the glans can occur when the area under the foreskin is not kept clean and dry.
  • Inflammation – Rough masturbation, lack of lubrication during sex, or forcing the skin back can result in a red, swollen, painful foreskin. Certain chemicals, such as those found in some soaps or detergents, may also cause inflammation. Using a personal lube, moisturizing the penis, and using natural detergents and personal hygiene products can help to reduce recurrences of this problem.

Boosting overall penis health

In addition to normal care of the prepuce, men can take steps to keep the foreskin especially supple and maintain its elasticity, as well as preventing the cracking and drying that are common among uncircumcised men. Investing in a high-quality penis vitamin cream  (most health professionals recommend Man 1 Man Oil) can provide the skin of the penis with the vital nutrients and soothing emollients it needs to stay healthy, resilient and responsive.

For additional information on most common penis health issues, tips on improving penis sensitivity, and what to do to maintain a healthy penis, visit: John Dugan is a professional writer who specializes in men's health issues and is an ongoing contributing writer to numerous online web sites.

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