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Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

Circumcision Care

Any baby boy who has been circumcised has had minor surgery, so his penis needs additional care to avoid infection or complications. After the procedure, your doctor should give you specific written instructions regarding the care of the penis.

Follow-up care depends on the circumcision method used by your doctor. The head of the penis is sometimes covered with a light dressing, such as gauze coated with petroleum jelly. Your doctor may recommend changing this bandage each time you change your baby's diaper until the area is fully healed. Use petroleum jelly on the bandage to keep the bandage from sticking to the penis. If a plastic ring (Plastibell) is left on the penis after the circumcision instead of a bandage, leave this ring in place until it slips off on its own, usually within five to 10 days.

It usually takes about seven to 10 days for the penis to fully heal after circumcision. During this time, it is normal for the head of the circumcised penis to look raw or have a yellowish coating or slight discharge. The coating or discharge is usually part of the healing process and does not need to be scrubbed off. A crust will probably form over the area. Some swelling is also normal.

After the circumcision, there should be no visible or active bleeding from the penis, but there may be a small amount of blood on the baby's diaper. Keep the area as clean as possible. Change the diapers often to minimize contact with urine and stool. Gently wash the penis with soap and water every day and whenever the diaper area becomes soiled. Do not give tub baths until the penis is fully healed.

Problems after circumcision are very rare. However, call your doctor right away if:

  • Your baby does not have a wet diaper within eight hours after the circumcision.
  • An area of the circumcision site does not stop bleeding or the bloodstain on the diaper seems to be larger than the size of a quarter.
  • There is redness or swelling around the tip of the penis that seems to be getting worse after three to five days.
  • There is a yellow discharge or coating around the tip of the penis after seven days.
  • Your baby has a fever (temperature of 100.4 F or higher).
  • Your baby seems to be having difficulty urinating.
  • A plastic ring was used and doesn't fall off within 10 to 12 days.
Last updated June 24, 2005




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