A penile adhesion occurs when the skin of the penis sticks to the penis head or’ glans.’ An adhesion can occur in anyone with a penis. For example, it can develop after a newborn circumcision in the case that too much foreskin is left. Penile adhesions can also form in infants with a lot of fat around the penis and scrotum.
Signs and Symptoms
- The penis appears “buried” in the pubic area
- White discharge at the adhesion that looks like pus
- A tugging feeling during erections
Penile Adhesion Treatment
Many adhesions will resolve on their own when left alone. However, the treatment of penile adhesions often involves separating the skin.
One procedure includes using a short course of low-dose topical steroid cream (Betamethasone). Apply the steroid cream to the penis twice daily for four weeks. Steroid cream can also decrease skin inflammation and increase the elasticity of the skin. We do not usually recommend betamethasone for use in children. However, there should be no problem if the application is limited to 4-8 weeks. Do not use topical steroids unless directed to do so by your pediatric healthcare provider.
For parents worried about using a topical steroid cream, you can also use petroleum jelly or similar products, like Vaseline. It should soften the adhesions and help them to break apart.
After the adhesion separates, you will notice some redness at the site, which is normal.
If this method does not work, the adhesion can be separated at an office visit with the use of topical Lidocaine cream to numb the area first. In some cases, thick, scarred adhesions may require surgical correction to repair. For in-office adhesion separation, we typically refer patients to a urologist.
Recircumcision, or a revision to the original circumcision, may be performed in the case that the skin of the penis is often infected or irritated, or if the adhesion’s density is causing discomfort or a curvature during erections.
Penile Adhesion Prevention
Prevent penile adhesions by changing your child’s diaper more often. Penile adhesions are more likely to occur if your child is often sitting in a wet, sticky diaper. Also, you may gently pull back the skin of the penis and apply petroleum jelly (Vaseline) to the head, or ‘glans’ to prevent adhesions.
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