Balanitis/Posthitis: Balanitis means infection of the penis. Posthitis is infection of the foreskin. Both are extremely rare, and are commonly over-diagnosed in the community. True, recurrent episodes of each can be a medical indication for circumcision.
Paraphimosis: A confusing term which describes a foreskin that has retracted beyond the coronal sulcus and becomes stuck. This leads to venous congestion distally, causing swelling and quickly making it almost impossible to pull it forward without medical intervention. This can require a general anaesthetic because of the discomfort caused.
Phimosis means a foreskin that cannot be retracted. There are 2 types:
- Physiologic – at birth and for several years after, boys’ foreskins cannot be retracted. This is normal. It is physiologic.
- Pathologic – either when a foreskin that was previously retractile becomes unretractile or when the foreskin is unretractile at an age when the majority of other boys the same age have a fully retractile foreskin. i.e. after the 8th birthday.
Smegma refers to the yellowish-white material that accumulates between the foreskin and the glans. It’s an unfortunate name for what is essentially desquamated skin.