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Circumcision Problems - Allied Physicians Group - Pediatric Medicine
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    • Recent circumcision (removal of the male foreskin)
    • Mainly circumcision of newborns

    First Aid Advice for Bleeding

    • Put a gauze pad or clean cloth on top of the wound.
    • Press down firmly on the place that is bleeding.
    • This is called direct pressure. It is the best way to stop bleeding.
    • Keep using pressure until the bleeding stops.
    • If bleeding does not stop, press on a slightly different spot.

    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.

    When to Call Us for Circumcision Problems

    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 has a life-threatening emergency

    Call Us 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 Us 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 Us 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

    Care Advice for Circumcision Problems

    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.

    Plastic Ring:

    • Gently wash the area with warm water twice a day.
    • Also, do this if it becomes dirty with poop.

    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.

    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.


    • 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.

    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.

    Stop Infections:

    • Fasten the diaper loosely to prevent friction against the penis.

    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

    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.
    Copyright 1994-2013 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

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