Paraphimosis: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment
- Published on August 08, 2022
Paraphimosis (pronounced pah-rah-fye-MOE-sis) is an uncommon condition that occurs when the foreskin of the penis becomes trapped behind the head of the penis (glans). The condition can occur at any age but is more common in older men and those with certain medical conditions or anatomical abnormalities.
It causes swelling, which prevents the foreskin from being pulled back to its normal position over the glans.
What is Paraphimosis?
Paraphimosis is a condition in which the foreskin of the penis becomes stuck behind the glans (head) of the penis and can’t be pulled back into its original position. This can happen if the foreskin is pulled back and then gets stuck or if there’s an injury that prevents the foreskin from being pulled back into position.
Paraphimosis can be painful and can cause swelling. If left untreated, it can lead to serious complications. The doctor will diagnose paraphimosis by looking at the symptoms. In some cases, a physical exam may not be necessary, and treatment can start without one.
Symptoms of paraphimosis
One of the most common paraphimosis symptom is your foreskin getting stuck behind the glans (head) of your penis. This often accompanies pain, swelling, and difficulty in urination.
In some cases, the foreskin can be pulled back so far that it cuts blood flow to the penis. If this happens, you may notice that the area begins to turn blue.
Causes of paraphimosis
Paraphimosis is caused by the constriction of the foreskin around the glans penis. This can be due to tight clothing, sexual activity, or trauma. The constriction cuts off blood flow to the area and lack of circulation can cause swelling and pain.
Some other common paraphimosis causes are:
- Foreskin gets pulled back for a longer period
- Due to some kind of infection
- Physical trauma to your genitals
Diagnosis of paraphimosis
Paraphimosis is diagnosed by physical examination. Your doctor will look for evidence of swelling and inflammation of the foreskin.
They may also ask about your symptoms and when they began. Sometimes, your doctor may order imaging tests to rule out other conditions.
How can paraphimosis be treated?
A doctor will do a physical exam to determine whether your problem is mild or severe before recommending paraphimosis treatment options such as using ointments, draining fluid with needle aspiration, pulling on the head of your penis gently but firmly until it’s loose enough for the foreskin to slide down over it again.
Mild cases are often self-resolving, but you can opt for the following paraphimosis home treatments:
- Apply a topical steroid cream to the foreskin
- Carefully try to pull the foreskin back over the glans (head of the penis)
- Apply a cold compress to the area
- Take over-the-counter pain medication as needed
- Consult your doctor if symptoms worsen
If you have a more severe case, your physician may recommend surgery for paraphimosis reduction.
The surgical procedure involves making two small cuts in the skin covering the foreskin opening. One cut goes along one side of the opening, while another goes along the other side. The edges are then stitched together and left open to allow air to reach the inside skin surface so that it heals better without scarring.
After the paraphimosis procedure, you will need time for your body to heal and regain strength before being able to regain normalcy. You will likely have to wear special underwear and make sure you always retract your foreskin after washing.
Some men who had this surgery experience pain for up to three months afterwards, which usually resolves independently. Other complications from surgery include infection and persistent pain.
Talk to your doctor about the potential risks and benefits of recommended treatments to decide what’s best for you.
Potential complications of paraphimosis
Paraphimosis can cause serious complications if it’s not treated promptly. These include tissue damage, infection, and gangrene.
Tissue necrosis or gangrene may occur due to a lack of blood flow. Blood supply could also be cut off from the penis if a tight foreskin remains trapped over the head of the penis for a long period of time. Inflammation can then set in and cause oedema or an abscess which could result in the need for surgical intervention or even loss of the penis if left untreated.
In severe cases, urethral obstruction can result from urinary retention and/or renal failure. Scarring might happen at the site where the constricting band of skin was located.
Phimosis might lead to sexual dysfunction such as erectile dysfunction (ED) in men due to physical trauma. It can also lead to erectile problems if scarring develops at or near an opening in the foreskin where an erection begins.
A chronic inflammatory response may make it difficult for the man to achieve and maintain an erection. Chronic inflammation can also be responsible for some cases of male infertility.
Prevention tips for paraphimosis
Paraphimosis is a condition that can be caused by many things, ranging from an infection to not cleaning the penis properly. However, there are some prevention tips that can help:
- First and foremost, it is important to clean the penis regularly. This means washing it with soap and water daily.
- It is also important to avoid irritants. This means using mild soap and avoiding tight-fitting clothing. If someone has been exposed to irritants, they should try to wash them off as soon as possible.
- The foreskin should never be left behind on the tip of the penis for prolonged periods of time. Doing so can lead to pain, swelling, and even skin breakdown.
- After an exam or procedure, ensuring that the foreskin is pulled back to its normal position by the healthcare provider will help prevent paraphimosis. In some cases, a sterile gauze may need to be placed under the foreskin before pulling it back.
- The foreskin must always be placed over the tip of the penis after pulling it back for cleaning, sexual intercourse, or urination. Failure to do so can result in paraphimosis.
Once the condition is corrected, people with paraphimosis should take steps to avoid recurrence. You may need to use a ring or tape on your penis before sex to maintain adequate penile coverage.
Men who are uncircumcised should ensure that their foreskin doesn’t become trapped behind the head of their penis.
While dealing with such a situation, it is natural to wonder how long does paraphimosis last? Well, with the right care, it can be treated swiftly without inconvenience.
In most cases of mild paraphimosis, conservative methods alone are enough to relieve symptoms. However, if these do not help or do not work at all (e.g., because they cause pain), then surgical intervention is usually necessary to avoid long-term problems with health and functionality.
If you think you or someone you know may have paraphimosis, contact CK Birla Hospital and book an appointment with Dr. Souren Bhattacharjee today. Our experienced team will assist you in developing a treatment plan that meets your needs.
Will paraphimosis go away on its own?
If you have mild paraphimosis, it will go away on its own. However, you can follow a few steps to resolve the problem sooner. On the other hand, severe paraphimosis will require surgical treatment.
How do you treat paraphimosis naturally?
You can apply a cold compress to the affected area to treat it naturally. You can also wrap a bandage around your penis if it doesn’t work. If nothing works, consult a physician.
Is paraphimosis treatment painful?
Sometimes the treatment can be painful, since the tip has to be squeezed in to bring back the foreskin of your penis to its original position.
Dr Souren Bhattacharjee
Consultant, Birla Fertility & IVF
Dr Souren Bhattacharjee possesses 32+ years of experience as an IVF Specialist. He has extensive experience in the management of male and female infertility, including IVF and Ultrasound. Along with this, Dr Souren has encountered more than 6000 IVF cycles with a very high success rate. Dr Bhattacharjee is a graduate of Gauhati University, 1983. He earned a diploma in gynaecology and obstetrics in 1991 from Dr MGR Medical University. In 1994, he did his Member Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists from London and in 2009, he did his Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists from London.
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