Phimosis is a condition that affects millions of men of all ages worldwide. In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at this surprisingly common condition, along with the most effective treatment options for those affected. What is Phimosis? The term ‘phimosis’ simply refers to tight foreskin in males, which can be uncomfortable or even painful in more severe cases. In some instances, there’s no specific identifiable cause for phimosis. More often than not, it’s simply a physiological developmental issue, wherein the foreskin is either too tight, or remains attached to the glans into puberty and adulthood. In terms of diagnosis, a male is considered to suffer from phimosis if he is unable to fully retract the foreskin without discomfort. If retracting the foreskin causes pain or discomfort, the respective individual may have phimosis. Treatment Options Irrespective of the cause and severity of the case, there are various treatment options to explore. In some instances, a doctor may decide that no treatment is necessary as the case of phimosis is non-severe. In others, they may recommend anything from foreskin stretching exercises to surgical intervention. Should a case of phimosis be suspected by a patient, consulting with a medical professional at the earliest possible stage comes highly recommended. After which, potential treatment options to explore include the following: Exercises The most common and usually the most effective treatment of all is a simple program of careful exercises. Doctors often suggest that their patients gently and regularly retract and return the foreskin to its natural position, in order to gradually loosen the overly tight skin and combat the problem naturally. There are also various devices that can be used to assist with the gradual loosening of the foreskin. However, under no circumstances should be the foreskin ever forcefully retracted, where doing so is particularly uncomfortable or painful. Over-the-Counter (OTC) medication Doctors also routinely recommend various OTC medications and ointments, which may include corticosteroid creams. If the case of phimosis is linked with a skin condition, the regular application of topical treatment could relieve some or all of the discomfort. Anti-inflammatory medication and painkillers may also be recommended, depending on the severity of the case. Prescription Medication There are also instances where stronger topical preparations may be prescribed – examples of which include betamethasone (Celestone) and triamcinolone (Aristopan). If the physician suspects there may be an infection at work, antibiotics may be prescribed accordingly. As phimosis is typically a physiological issue related to the size or tightness of the foreskin, treatment by way of prescription medication is comparatively rare. Surgery In most cases, surgery is considered a last resort option and will only be explored if all other treatment options have proved unsuccessful. The most common surgical procedure for the alleviation of phimosis being circumcision, which involves the surgical removal of the foreskin in its entirety. Circumcision procedures are usually carried out at a younger age, though can be performed at any age where tight foreskin becomes problematic. Though uncomfortable, there are comparatively few negative side-effects associated with circumcision. Alternative surgical procedures include a partial cutting and stretching of the foreskin (Preputioplasty/Frenuloplasty), which can bring similar relief as circumcision while maintaining the appearance of an uncircumcised penis. Appropriateness or otherwise would usually be determined by the specifics of the case and the severity of the phimosis. When to Seek Advice… Under no circumstances should it be uncomfortable or painful to retract the foreskin after reaching adolescence. Even where phimosis isn’t particularly painful, it’s still important to consult with a medical professional at the earliest possible stage. Conclusion While it’s rare for phimosis to cause any particularly serious complications, it can nonetheless be life-affecting. With such an extensive range of effective treatment options available, there’s no reason to suffer in silence.