The foreskin is a layer of skin that covers the penile glans and attaches to the foreskin ligament. Read more!


The foreskin (Praeputium) is a double layer of skin covering the glans (glans penis). Since the penis elongates during erection, it needs a reserve skin fold, which withdraws from the glans penis. On the underside of the penis, the prepuce is attached to the glans via the prepuce band (Frenulum praeputii). Read everything important about the foreskin!

What is the foreskin?

The foreskin (prepuce) is a double skin layer. It represents the end of the stretchable and well-moving skin that envelops the shaft of the penis. On the underside of the glans, the foreskin is attached to the glans by the foreskin band (frenulum).

The inner leaf of the foreskin has a mucosal function. From the secretions of the sebaceous glands and shed skin cells of the prepuce, a whitish-yellowish, sebaceous mass forms, the smegma. It also contains bacteria, including the so-called Smegmabacterium (Mycobacterium smegmatis).

The foreskin in childhood

Up to the first year of life, only about half of the boys can hide the foreskin over the glans, and by the end of the second year this is already possible in 80 percent of the boys. Until the age of three, it is still normal for the prepuce to be glued to the glans and not retract. Until the onset of puberty, the foreskin is resolved in most cases and can be pushed backwards.

What is the function of the foreskin?

When the penis is relaxed, the foreskin lies protectively over the glans. In an erection, the double layer of skin serves as a reserve skin fold: When the limb becomes stiff and elongates, the prepuce over the glans withdraws.

Where is the foreskin?

The usually well-movable prepuce is located at the penis tip and covered here the glans.

What problems can the foreskin cause?

If the foreskin is too tight and can not be pulled back over the glans, it is called phimosis. The smegma can not or only with great difficulty be removed, which can lead to an inflammation (balanitis = glans inflammation). A phimosis may be innate or later, for example, by inflammation, shrinkage or thickening of the foreskin tape.

Early attempts to retract the foreskin in infancy may result in minor injuries that heal with scarring.

The foreskin ligament may also be innately too short (Frenulum breve) and then tear in an erection.

If a too tight foreskin is forcibly pulled back over the glans into the annular furrow behind it (glans, corona glandis), the glans can be pinched off. This so-called paraphimosis should be treated as soon as possible medically, because through the broken blood circulation, the glans can die off.

Lack of personal hygiene can lead to inflammation due to the bacteria that contains the smegma. When the smegma hardens, concrements (balanolites) are formed together with urinary salts.

A tumor of the foreskin is just as possible as a malignant melanoma (black skin cancer) in this area.

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