Ask the Doc: Why is it hard to pull back my foreskin?

Related conditions


Over the past few weeks, I’ve found it extremely hard to pull back my foreskin. I’ve also recently started experiencing itchiness and a red rash at the head of my penis. Is there anything I can do myself to treat this? And can I still have sex?


Penis and foreskin issues are quite common—and often easily treatable, but still, some men sit silently with these uncomfortable issues for ages before seeking help!

Firstly, I would definitely be getting this checked out by your GP rather than trying to sort it out yourself at home. It sounds like you are suffering from a phimosis, where the foreskin cannot be pulled back to expose the head (glans) of the penis. This can be caused by a few conditions but most commonly, a skin condition known as BXO (otherwise called lichen sclerosis) is responsible. It is sometimes managed with topical creams while circumcision can usually cure the problem.

So, what’s the problem with a phimosis? Well, it can result in issues such as infections (which you may have right now with the description of redness and irritation), skin tearing, discomfort with erections or sexual interactions and rarely, urinating difficulties. Some men even end up not being able to engage in sex because of a phimosis. Also, it is important to remember that penile cancer, although rare, is more common when a phimosis is present.

What else could it be? You may simply be suffering from infection of the foreskin, which may require antibiotic treatment. This issue is more common in males with diabetes. Sexually transmitted infections also need to be excluded here, so I would hold off on any sexual activity until you get this sorted.

My advice is to get this seen by your doctor. Exclude nasties like infections or cancer, and the phimosis can then be addressed and you can move forward with a healthier, happier penis.

Dr. Gideon Blecher

Gideon Blecher

Urologist and Andrologist

Dr Gideon Blecher is an Australian qualified Urologist and Andrologist and specialises in a variety of areas including erectile dysfunction, penile prosthetic surgery, Peyronie’s disease, genital reconstruction, male infertility, male incontinence, testicular and penile lesions, as well as sexual dysfunction and general urology. He is the current co-chairperson of the Young Sexual Medicine Academy (YOsEMA) and has authored multiple medical book chapters and published extensively in peer-reviewed journals.


Lichen sclerosus
Penis pain
Seeing the GP

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