Topical corticosteroids may be a safe alternative to treat phimosis in boys

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Topical corticosteroids may be a safe alternative to treat phimosis  

Phimosis, where the foreskin cannot be fully drawn back over the penis is normal at birth and often self-corrects without needing treatment during the first four years of life; only 10% of three-year-old boys have phimosis (congenital phimosis). 

Treatment for phimosis has become controversial. Circumcision operations and prepuce plasty have been widely used. 

Topical corticosteroid treatment aims to reduce skin tightening around the tip of the penis. Cochrane reviewers assessed the effects of topical corticosteroids to treat phimosis in boys aged between 18 days and 17 years compared with non-active treatment (placebo) or no treatment at all.1 The review included 1395 boys, and while they found that potent topical corticosteroids (e.g. mometasone, hydrocortisone butyrate 0.1%, betamethasone 0.05 to 0.2%) may increase the likelihood of full or partial resolution of phimosis without significant adverse effects, many studies did not report adverse events.


  1. Moreno G, et al., Topical corticosteroids for treating phimosis in boys. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014. Click here 

Gems are chosen by the Goodfellow director Dr. Bruce Arroll to be either practice changing or practice maintaining. The information is educational and not clinical advice.

As published in NZ Doctor 7/6/2017