Painful Tears in Foreskin
Q. I am a 55-year-old uncircumcised male. Recently, I have developed small tears in my foreskin that are quite painful. Their appearance does not seem to correlate with my sexual activity. Gold Bond cream has been somewhat helpful in healing the areas. Aquaphor or petroleum-based products seem to make the problem worse. What could be causing this problem?
A. Many uncircumcised men suffer from phimosis, a condition characterized by tightening of the foreskin such that when it is retracted it cracks. These cracks become infected, which leads to swelling and pain. The result is a vicious cycle — more shrinking of the foreskin, leading to further cracking. Rarely, a skin cancer can develop on the foreskin that cracks and causes pain very similar to phimosis. At times the only way to tell is to biopsy the foreskin. Your doctor should be able to do this.
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