Care After Circumcision

Circumcision is a simple procedure most often done in the nursery before a baby boy goes home from the hospital, if the family has chosen to have it done. Circumcision can be done in a number of ways. Your healthcare provider will explain the procedure and tell you what to expect. To care for your son after circumcision, follow the tips below.

What to expect 

  • A crust of bloody or yellowish coating may appear around the head of the penis. This is normal. Don't clean off the crust or it may bleed.

  • The penis may swell a little, or bleed a little around the incision.

  • The head of the penis might be slightly red or black and blue.

  • Your baby may cry at first when he urinates, or be fussy for the first couple of days.

  • The circumcision should heal in 1 to 2 weeks.

Keep the penis clean

  • Gently wash your son’s penis with warm water during diaper changes if the penis has stool on it.

  • Use a soft washcloth.

  • Let the skin air-dry.

  • Change diapers often to help prevent infection.

  • Coat the head of the penis with petroleum jelly and gauze if the healthcare provider says to.

For the Gomco or Mogan clamp

  • If there is gauze or a bandage on the penis, you may be asked either to remove it the next day, or to change it each time you change diapers.

For the Plastibell device

  • Let the cap fall off by itself. This takes 3 to 10 days.

  • Call your healthcare provider if the cap falls off within the first 2 days or stays on for more than 10 days.

Image of penis

Image of penis

When to call your healthcare provider

  • The penis is very red or swells a lot.

  • Your child develops a fever (see Fever and children, below).

  • Your child has had a seizure.

  • Your child is acting very ill, listless, or fussy. 

  • The discharge becomes heavy, is a greenish color, or lasts more than a week.

  • Bleeding cannot be stopped by applying gentle pressure.

Fever and children

Always use a digital thermometer to check your child’s temperature. Never use a mercury thermometer.

For infants and toddlers, be sure to use a rectal thermometer correctly. A rectal thermometer may accidentally poke a hole in (perforate) the rectum. It may also pass on germs from the stool. Always follow the product maker’s directions for proper use. If you don’t feel comfortable taking a rectal temperature, use another method. When you talk to your child’s healthcare provider, tell him or her which method you used to take your child’s temperature.

Here are guidelines for fever temperature. Ear temperatures aren’t accurate before 6 months of age. Don’t take an oral temperature until your child is at least 4 years old.

Infant under 3 months old:

  • Ask your child’s healthcare provider how you should take the temperature.

  • Rectal or forehead (temporal artery) temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

  • Armpit temperature of 99°F (37.2°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

Child age 3 to 36 months:

  • Rectal, forehead (temporal artery), or ear temperature of 102°F (38.9°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

  • Armpit temperature of 101°F (38.3°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

Child of any age:

  • Repeated temperature of 104°F (40°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

  • Fever that lasts more than 24 hours in a child under 2 years old. Or a fever that lasts for 3 days in a child 2 years or older.