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How do I clean baby’s uncircumcised penis?
Q: I was wondering how to keep an uncircumcised penis clean. Do I pull the skin back? I’ve heard a lot of conflicting answers to this question.
Jo New York
A: Jo, just as the decision whether or not to circumcise your baby boy may be based on religious or cultural preferences, people’s practices for cleaning an uncircumcised penis may also follow different religious or cultural customs.

The basic medical recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics are as follows:

1. For a newborn boy, clean the surface of his penis with soap and water, just as you do the rest of his body.

2. Wait until the foreskin naturally separates from the head of the penis before cleaning underneath the foreskin. The foreskin is initially closely attached to the head of the penis. Over a baby’s first weeks, months or years—it is different with each child—the foreskin separates and can be pulled back or retracted from the head of the penis toward the body. Don’t force the foreskin back as this could cause bleeding, pain and harm to the penis. Once your son’s foreskin can be retracted, occasional cleaning underneath it is adequate. Follow these steps:

  • Gently retract the foreskin away from the head of the penis.

  • Rinse the foreskin and head of the penis with soap and water.

  • Pull the foreskin back over the head of the penis.

  • 3. As your son grows up, teach him to be responsible for his own hygiene, including bathing and cleaning his penis. For young boys, occasionally cleaning underneath the foreskin is adequate. Once boys reach puberty, they should bathe and clean the penis more regularly, following the same procedure as above.

Karen Sokal-Gutierrez M.D., M.P.H. Pediatrician