Recovering from circumcision 

In babies who are circumcised, the foreskin usually takes about 7 to 10 days to heal. In older boys and men, the healing process can take up to four to six weeks.

Self-care advice

As circumcision is a painful procedure, painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen will need to be taken for at least the first three days after the operation. Children aged 16 or younger should not take aspirin.

Circumcision exposes the sensitive skin of the tip of the penis (glans). In babies, nappies can rub against the glans, making it sore. Therefore, make sure that you tuck down your baby’s penis before putting the nappy in place. You may be advised to apply an antibacterial cream for up to a week.

After circumcision, the penis will be red and swollen for a few days. You or your child may find it more comfortable to wear loose clothing for a while. Putting petroleum ointment directly on to the area can also reduce irritation.

After a boy has been circumcised, make sure that he does not ride a bike or use other sit-on toys until the swelling has completely gone down. If he is of school age, he should be able to return to school about a week after being circumcised. However, let his teacher know that he has had the operation.

It is important to practise good hygiene and ensure that your child's nappies are frequently changed after a circumcision.

Do not use scented products in the shower or bath and leave the penis to dry naturally.

For adults, the surgeon will also give advice about sexual activity. Usually, sex should be avoided until the wound has healed, to avoid it reopening.

When to seek medical advice

After a child has been circumcised, speak to your GP if:

  • there is bleeding from your child’s penis
  • your child’s penis remains swollen after two weeks
  • your child still finds passing urine painful a few days after the operation

Older boys and men should also see their GP if they have any problems after circumcision.

Page last reviewed: 10/01/2014

Next review due: 10/01/2016