Problems with Child's Uncircumcised Penis

Archived Q&A and Reviews


U.T.I. in 2 year old with ''ballooning penis''

Feb 2007

I read the posted advise about ''ballooning penis'' and was so relieved... i didn't however read anything about the ''ballooning'' causing a Urinary Tract Infection.

Our son who is 2 1/2 and is potty training (he's really good at holding his pee, almost to good!) recently got a UTI. our Ped. (Kiser) said it's because of the ''ballooning'' she said there is back flow which caused the Infection. She has scheduled an ultra-sound for his kidneys to make sure the infection did not go there. He had bleeding with the UTI. They also want us to see a Ped. Urologist.

Naturally we are so happy to have not circumcized, and are scared to do anything that will hurt/traumatize him. so i wonder has anyone had experience with this type of problem? worried mama

I hate to be the bearer of the ''bad news'' but here goes. Keep aware of the foreskin that does not retract (2 is early but keep yr eyes open for when/if it does and talk to yr ped periodically about it). Talk to a ped urologist. We too did not circumcise either of our boys. We did not want to hurt our kids. However, my older son's foreskin never did fully retract. It ballooned when he peed. He got UTIs.

He's now six. We went to a ped urologist and are now on our second three week round of a steroid cream with him and that entails retacting his foreskin twice a day which is clearly uncomfortable for him. The urologist sd since we had some (a little) retraction he'll let us try a third time before recommending we circumcising him. Can you imagine, a six year old, already aware of some inkling of his sexuality, already embarrassed in front of his peers about his underpants showing, having to explain why he missed school to have a painful procedure on his penis?

Now I wouldn't say I regret not circumcising him but I do reconsider whether I can always protect him from pain. Much in the same way my friends who didn't give their kids chicken pox shots MERELY for the ''protection of pain'' argument regret having to see their kids incredibly uncomfortable scratching and having to stay home from work for a week or more with them. I hope your son is ok and I hope this hasn't seemed harsh but stay on top of it and please be open to trying anything that may help him. been there

My son, who is not circumcized, was also experiencing ''ballooning''. I asked my Kaiser pediatrician about it, and she too referred me to the pediatric urologist in Oakland. What a horrible experience my son and I had with that guy! Not only did he make us wait 45 minutes past our appointment time without an apology from him, his manner was dismissive. He said my son had phimosis, and then prescribed a steriod cream to stop the ''problem.'' He told me to apply the cream twice a day, and pull back the foreskin until the penis was able to be seen. He said that if the cream did not work, he would then recommend circumcision. Like the naive new mom that I was, I followed his instruction. After several weeks, he was very pleased to see that the foreskin retracted as he said was required (on an 18 month old!) He allowed me to go home with intact son. Sometime afterwards, my son came down with a horribly painful UTI, which was dismissed by yet another wonderfully uninformed doctor in the ER! Fortunately, thereafter, I did alot of homework, and stopped the steroid cream. I only hope now that my son's penis is not scared by the forced retraction that ''pediatric urologist'' required me to do! My advice to you is to learn as much as possible about uncircumcized penises, UTIs, etc. BEFORE you talk with the pediatric urologist, who may try to get you to do things that may not be in your son's best interests... e.g. circumcize him, put steroid cream on his foreskin, forceably retract his foreskin, etc. Still fuming two years later!

I just want to highly recommend the Pediatric Urologist at Oakland Kaiser, Dr. Krishnan and his doctor's assistant, whose name I forget. They made the exam and treatment so much easier for our son by being light-hearted and quick and kind. It sounds like that's who you'll be seeing so just know you're in good hands. Dr. Krishnan also comes highly recommended by two different Pediatricians I respect at Kaiser. Rebecca

Our son has a different problem with his kidney/reflux, etc. We are also with Kaiser and think the pediatric urologist and pediatric nephrologist are WONDERFUL. Especially the urologist. I think that after you see the urologist you will not be worried, and you will fully understand your son's condition, treatment options, etc. No real advice, just commiseration, but it sounds like you have a solvable problem - it'll all be OK. BTDT

My son is now 11 years old, and continues with the ''ballooning penis'' when he pees, but has never had a UTI. I have not taken him in to the pediatric urologist, but have spoken with them, and they always tell me it is a problem and recommend the steroid cream. Well, it doesn't seem to be a problem for my son. I feel that the intact penis is not part of the culture of urology in this country yet. I remember reading that in Europe, the boys are not troubled by the ''ballooning penis'' so I decided not to worry about it at this point. Also I think the age of when the foreskin ''should'' retract is also not known for sure.

I didn't see the original post, but I would say one UTI can be random, and you might do the wholistic things we all do for UTIs, more water, cranberry juice. But if your son has many UTIs you may want to pursue more the medical model with the urologist.

Ballooning of preschooler's uncircumcised penis

Sept 2005

My 3-1/2 year old son is uncircumcised, and his penis balloons when he pees. He has not complained about it, although I have noticed the tip of his penis seems red from time to time (a little neosporin usually takes care of it). We have never been able to fully retract his foreskin.

My question is: does anyone know of a homeopathic way to soften the foreskin to retract it? I got the prescription for the steroid cream but feel a little squeamish using it. Also, do I need to worry about the fact we can't retract it? Previous posts on the website seem to suggest we don't need to.

Thank you for any help on this slightly embarrassing topic. I was adamant on him not being circumcised, but I never anticipated any problems with it. A little worried

My son's penis wasn't retracting either & there are loads of studies/advice (including his pediatrician's) saying that it was fine - but I still felt like I needed to do something about it (I'll admit, I worried both about the possibility of it worsening &/ or how things might/might not (?!) 'work' as he grows up...hey, he will be older some day ; )) Anyway, I did get the prescription for the steroid cream, we used it once in the morning & evening for just a couple of weeks & everything worked out just fine. (the prescription said to use for six weeks, but we stopped after a couple of days of the penis fully retracting) I just kept reminding him that when he pees & takes a bath, he needs to fully retract his foreskin - he's into it (a new toy, so to speak...boys & their toys...) and now he does it on his own - all is good a year later! Hope this helps. Jennifer

I have a friend from French Guyana who told me that when he was of age (7/8 years old) his mom would rub a mild oil around the skin and gently pull it back. It sounded very ceremonial, similar to a rite of passage. 3.5 years old might be to young to worry about it. My 7 seven year old hasn't been able to retract the skin on his penis yet and I believe that's normal. anon

First, congratulations on leaving your son intact! As an RN and mother of an intact son, all these things sound perfectly normal. The penis ballooning is normal, it is a sign of early foreskin retraction. It is also normal for the foreskin not to be fully retractable until after puberty! My son was fully retractable at the age 4 but he is the only one who handles his penis. No bubble bath or soap under the foreskin, that can cause redness and irritation (just like little girls).


Ballooning of 6 year old's penis when he pees

Sept 2001

My 6 year old son was not circumcised at birth and has had no problems until the last month or so when he has experienced ballooning of the penis when he pees. So consulting with the pediatrician and the pediatric urologist, they say there's no way to tell if the foreskin will stretch enough or if he will eventually need a circumcision. I feel like if he needs the operation, I would rather he have it when he is younger and no where near puberty, yet I would prefer not to circumcise him at all. I wonder if anyone has any experience with outgrowing this ballooning, or circumcision as a child, or a reputable web site to pursue this a bit more (i.e. lots more experience with this in Europe).

When a doctor advises that your son be circumcised, it is usually because he or she is unfamiliar with the intact penis, misinformed about the true indications for surgical amputation of the foreskin, or unaware of the functions of the foreskin. GET A SECOND OPINION, from a pediatrician or ped. urologists who is truly knowledgeable about foreskins and who understands the important functions of the foreskin. Don't act out of fear, be absolutely positive that it is one of those rare cases where it is truly a medical necessity.

Here is an excerpt from a paper written by Dr. Paul M. Fleiss, MD., Asst. Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at USC Medical Center in LA. He wrote: Ballooning of the foreskin during urination is a normal and temporary condition in some boys. It results in no discomfort and is usually a source of great delight for little boys. Ballooning comes as a surprise only to those adults who have no experience with this phase of penile development. Ballooning disappears as the foreskin and glans separate and the opening of the foreskin increases in diameter. It requires no treatment.

My husband just read this post over my shoulder. He is an intact male. He said that when he was a little boy he had loads of fun watching his penis balloon up when he urinated! So there you go. Perfectly normal.

Here are some websites to help your research: Mothering Magazine:
National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NOCIRC) 415-488-9883.
Doctors Opposing Circumcision (DOC) 360-385-1882
Nurses for the Rights of the Child 505-989-7377.
Circumcision Resource Center. 617-523-0088.
The Circumcision Information and Resource Pages.
Good luck. Marianne

Dr. Paul Fleiss in Los Angeles is an internationally recognized expert on the important functions of the foreskin and the care and protection of the intact penis. He has a recent article in Mothering magazine that gives excellent and detailed advice on this general topic. He is also available for phone consults at 323-664-1977. He states in his article that circumcision is rarely necessary when there are problems with the foreskin and discusses why. This article is available on the Mothering website:

It won't give me a direct link, but I found the article by searching under Recent Articles, volume 103. The title is Protect Your Uncircumcised Son. I also have the article and would be happy to share it with you.

Another resource: National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers 415-488-9883 or - they can refer you to a local physician with training in care of the intact penis and their website has lots of other information that you might find helpful. jen

I can send you an article by Dr. Paul Fleiss called Protect Your Uncircumcised Son - Expert Medical Advice for Parents which covers several conditions of the foreskin, and how they may be treated. Here is an excerpt directly pertaining to ballooning: Ballooning of the foreskin during urination is a normal and temporary condition in some boys. It results in no discomfort and is usually a source of great delight for little boys. Ballooning comes as a surprise only to those adults who have no experience with this phase of penile development. It certainly does not cause kidney damage; it has nothing to do with the kidneys. Ballooning disappears as the foreskin and glans separate and the opening of the foreskin increases in diameter. It requires no treatment. shannon

I recently read on the web that Irish youngsters lucky enough to have a ballooning foreskin would stand in a line to pee, competeing to see who could shoot their urine furthest by squeezig the balloon. The point being that the ballooning is quite normal. The same article encouraged patience among American parents and children who often don't realize that the foreskin shouldn't be expected to fully retract until about the age of 18. kibbe

My son had the same problem as you describe. Once (when my son was not even 1 year old) we had to go to an emergency room in upstate NY because my son had an infection on his penis when the Dr. in charge told us he needed to be circumcised immediately because the foreskin would never stretch enough. When I refused, he said that we needed to work the penis by moving it back and forth aggressively a few times a day until it could be stretched all the way. He also said that might end up with a partial circumcision (whatever that means)anyway and that we'd better do it now when he is still young. I never did that either. At some point when my son was 4 I did wonder if it would ever stretch enough but all of a sudden, only a few months ago, my son showed it to me on his own. My advise is to leave it alone, your son will start playing with it and I am sure that it will work itself out. Nature has a funny way of correcting itself. I was born in Europe and I actually never met anyone who needed a circumcision for what you describe. JE

Our son is not yet a year old, but he also had balloning when he peed, and since he had a mild infection under the foreskin at about six months, our pediatrican recommended seeing a pediatric urologist. We first saw Dr. Lee in Berkeley, who gave us few non-surgical alternatives. But we sought a second opinion with Dr. Ngeyun at UCSF. Like Lee, he diagnosed phimosis, which is a tight opening to the foreskin. But his approach was very different. We used a prescription steroid cream for three weeks that softened the tissue and allowed the foreskin to retract completely. No more balloning! And no cutting.

The cream has been in use in Europe for about ten years, and has an excellent success rate. It's also been successful in this country, though not in pratice as long. Dr. Ngeyun was very kind and took the time to explain both the problem and the solution to us. He gave us a packet of information to read, and was available for consutation via email when I needed reassurance that I was using the cream correctly and that the results were normal.

My son is considerably younger than yours, and his problem may have been different. And here's the usual disclaimer: I am not a doctor and have no way of knowing what is really going on with your son. But I highly recommend a visit to Dr. Nguyen. The whole staff at UCSF just felt more up-to-date than the one in Berkeley.

I wanted to add something to my response last week about this issue. If you choose to go to a new health care provider and/or take a different course of action than the circumcision recommended by your doctors, please consider returning to your doctors and sharing with them the medical information you have obtained and the decision you have made. Hopefully they can learn from your research. Jen