What is phimosis? Phimosis is a painful condition that makes it difficult to retract the foreskin of the penis. It occurs in boys and men who have not undergone circumcision (removal of the foreskin covering the tip of the penis). Tissue damage can occur if the foreskin is forcibly retracted. Phimosis is common in newborn males because the skin covering the tip of the penis is still tight and less pliable, and it is fairly normal for most babies and toddlers to have initial difficulties with retracting the foreskin. Phimosis typically resolves or improves on its own with age. Most boys can retract their foreskin completely by the age of three (Source: LPCH). Another condition affecting the foreskin is called paraphimosis, in which repositioning of the foreskin to the unretracted position is not possible, and this limits or stops blood flow to the penis. It is a more serious condition because it affects blood supply and must be treated in an emergency setting. If phimosis is not resolved by adolescence, circumcision may be necessary since the condition can cause pain or discomfort during urination and difficulty with sexual intercourse. Phimosis is not typically associated with serious complications unless urination is not possible, but paraphimosis is an emergency. The inability to reposition or unretract the foreskin to its proper position is potentially dangerous because it can deprive the penis of blood flow. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you or your child is unable to reposition the foreskin and experience symptoms of swelling, tightness and constriction, or the inability to urinate.