Circumcision Problems  

This Care Guide Covers:

  • Recent circumcision (removal of the male foreskin)
  • Mainly circumcision of newborns

View First Aid Advice
  • Advice for Bleeding:

When to Call Your Doctor

Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If
  • Large blood loss and baby is pale or cold
  • Not moving or very weak
  • You think your child is having a life-threatening emergency
Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If
  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • Age under 1 month old and looks or acts abnormal in any way
  • Bleeding is more than a few drops
  • Head of penis is dark blue or black
  • Severe swelling of penis
  • Can't pass urine or can only pass a few drops
  • No urine for over 8 hours
  • Crying and your child can't be comforted after trying this advice for over 2 hours
  • Age under 12 weeks old with fever. (Caution: Do NOT give your baby any fever medicine before being seen.)
  • Looks infected (redness is spreading)
  • Tiny water blisters occur on skin
  • Plastic ring has moved on to shaft of penis
  • You think your child needs to be seen urgently
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently
  • Bleeding is a few drops BUT happens 3 or more times
  • Swelling (without redness) gets larger after day 3
Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If
  • You have other questions or concerns
  • Plastic ring stays on over 14 days
  • Penis looks well-healed but not normal to you. (It looks strange or has an extra tag of skin)
Parent Care at Home If
  • Normal circumcision
Causes & Health Information

Normal Circumcision Healing

  • A circumcision is the removal of most of the male foreskin.
  • The incision starts off red and tender. The tenderness should be much less by day 3.
  • The scab at the incision line comes off in 7 to 10 days.
  • If a Plastibell (plastic ring) was used, it should fall off by 14 days. 10 days is the average.¬†While it can't fall off too early, pulling it off can cause bleeding.
  • Complications: Wound infections occur in less than 1 out of 200 circumcised boys.¬†

  1. What You Should Know:
    • The tip (head) of the penis can be red after the foreskin is removed. This is normal.
    • The rest of the penis should not be red.
    • Most circumcisions heal quickly.
    • Infections are rare.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Plastic Ring:
    • Gently wash the area with warm water twice a day.
    • Also, do this if it becomes dirty with poop.
  3. Incision (No Plastic Ring is Present):
    • The dressing is gauze with petroleum jelly. Take this off 24 hours later. Sometimes, it will fall off on its own. If you need to remove it, use a warm wet washcloth.
    • Gently wash the area with warm water twice a day. Also, do this if it becomes dirty with poop.
  4. Ointment for Pain:
    • Put a layer of ointment on the incision line. This should lessen any pain and crying.
    • To prevent pain, use petroleum jelly. Put it on the incision line and head of the penis. Do this after each cleansing for the first 4 days. Other option: You can also use an antibiotic ointment. No prescription is needed.
    • Reason: Helps keep it soft and stops the diaper from sticking during healing.
  5. Bleeding:
    • The circumcision wound can normally bleed a few drops. Most often, this is caused by the diaper rubbing on the wound.
    • Will stop on its own or with a few minutes of direct pressure.
    • Can stop bleeding by keeping the area soft with an ointment.
  6. What to Expect For A Plastic Ring:
    • The plastic ring will normally fall off between 7 and 14 days (average 10).
    • It often hangs by a small piece of tissue for a few days.
    • It will come off on its own.
    • Pulling it off can cause bleeding.
    • It can't fall off too early.
  7. Stop Infections:
    • Fasten the diaper loosely to prevent friction against the penis.
  8. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Looks infected
    • Bleeding occurs
    • Plastic ring moves onto shaft of the penis
    • Plastic ring does not fall off by day 14
    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.

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Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

Last Reviewed: 9/1/2012

Last Revised: 1/14/2013

Content Set: Child Symptom Checker

Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.