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Urinary and Genital Disorders (Children)

Swollen Penis - 6 year old

08/01/2011

Question:

My 6 year old son`s penis is swollen, red and itchy. Should I be concerned and what can I do to help ease the uncomfortableness for him.

Answer:

This question is difficult to answer. It is unclear whether he is circumcised. If he is uncircumcised, then he may have penile swelling under the foreskin from epithelial debris (physiologic). Occasionally it is red and appears inflamed, although infection is uncommon. Some boys who are circumcised also develop a red and swollen penis. Sometimes the penis is retracted into the fat pad just above the penis, and it just needs cleaning with warm water. In other cases there is inflammation from an incomplete circumcision. This problem is very common, and not a cause for concern. It will get better over time. Another cause is irritation from the detergent used to clean his underwear, although this is uncommon. Did he try to urinate outside and come into contact with an irritant. I have seen a few boys with poison ivy of the penis (obviously rare). Finally, some boys have intermittent redness and irritation that comes and goes, and generally it goes away permanently. It is not a serious condition. If there is no obvious cause and it persists, it would be appropriate to see a pediatric urologist.

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Response by:

Jack S Elder, MD, FACS, FAAP Jack S Elder, MD, FACS, FAAP
Clinical Professor of Urology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University