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Gently wash the penis with warm water each day when you're having a shower or bath.

If you have a foreskin, pull it back gently and wash underneath.

If you don't wash underneath the foreskin correctly, a cheesy-looking substance called smegma may begin to gather.

Smegma is a natural lubricant that keeps the penis moist. It's found on the head of the penis and under the foreskin.

If smegma builds up in the foreskin, it can start to smell, stop you easily pulling your foreskin back, and become a breeding ground for bacteria. This can cause redness and swelling of the head of your penis, called balanitis.

Don't try to pull back the foreskin of a baby or young boy with force, as this could be painful and cause harm. Their foreskin might still be attached to the head of the penis and will therefore not retract fully. At this stage of their development, there's no need to clean inside the foreskin.

Avoid getting a sore penis

Washing your penis too much with soap and shower gels can cause soreness. To wash your penis once a day with warm water and then dry it gently is enough to maintain good hygiene.

If you want to use soap, choose a mild or non-perfumed soap to reduce the risk of skin irritation.

It may be tempting to use talc and deodorants on your penis, but these are best avoided as they may cause irritation.

Testicles and pubic area

Don't forget to clean the base of the penis and the testicles. Sweat and hair can combine to produce a strong smell, just as unpleasant as under your armpits.

These areas need frequent washing to stop sweat from accumulating, especially as they are enclosed in underwear for most of the day.

Make sure the area between the base of the testicles and the anus is also clean and odour-free.

Look out for any unusual lumps or swellings in your testicles that weren't there before.

Find out what testicles should look and feel like

Page last reviewed: 24 May 2021
Next review due: 24 May 2024