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Discharge Instructions for Circumcision

Your baby had a procedure called circumcision. This is a procedure to remove the baby’s foreskin. The foreskin is the layer of skin that covers the tip (glans) of the penis. Circumcision is usually done before a baby boy goes home from the hospital. Your baby's healthcare provider explained the procedure and told you what to expect. Follow the guidelines on this sheet to care for your baby after his circumcision.

What to expect

  • You will probably see a crust of blood, or eventually a yellowish coating, where the foreskin was removed. Don’t rub off the crust or coating, or it may bleed.

  • The penis will swell a little. Or it may bleed a little around the incision.

  • The head of the penis will be a little red or slightly black-and-blue.

  • Your baby may cry at first when he urinates. Or he may be fussy for the first few days.

  • Give your child pain relievers as instructed by your baby's healthcare provider. Ask your baby's healthcare provider whether over-the-counter pain relievers are OK to use. Skin-to-skin cuddling and breastfeeding may also help reduce pain.

  • Healing takes about 2 weeks.

Cleaning your baby’s penis

  • Coat the sore area with petroleum jelly every time you change your baby's diaper during the first 2 weeks.

  • Use a soft washcloth and warm water to gently clean your baby’s penis if it has stool on it. Try not to rub the sore area. It may slow healing or cause bleeding. You may use mild soap if the baby’s penis has stool on it. But most of the time no soap is needed.

  • Don’t dry the penis with a towel. Let it air dry after cleaning.

  • To help prevent infection, change your baby’s diapers right away after he urinates or has a bowel movement.

Caring for your baby’s bandage

  • If your baby has a gauze bandage, change or remove the bandage according to your healthcare provider's instructions. You will either remove the bandage the day after the surgery or you will change it each time you change your baby’s diaper.

  • If your baby has a plastic-ring device, let the cap fall off by itself. This takes 3 to 10 days. Call your baby's healthcare provider if the cap falls off within the first 2 days or stays on for more than 10 days.

Follow-up

Make a follow-up appointment with your baby's healthcare provider, or as directed.

When to call your baby's healthcare provider

Call your baby's healthcare provider right away if your child has any of the following:

  • A very red penis

  • A lot of swelling of the penis

  • Fever (see Fever and children, below)

  • Discharge from the penis that is heavy, has a greenish color, or lasts more than a week

  • Bleeding that isn’t stopped by applying gentle pressure

  • Not urinating normally for 6 to 8 hours after the circumcision

Fever and children

Use a digital thermometer to check your child’s temperature. Don’t use a mercury thermometer. There are different kinds and uses of digital thermometers. They include:

  • Rectal. For children younger than 3 years, a rectal temperature is the most accurate.

  • Forehead (temporal). This works for children age 3 months and older. If a child under 3 months old has signs of illness, this can be used for a first pass. The provider may want to confirm with a rectal temperature.

  • Ear (tympanic). Ear temperatures are accurate after 6 months of age, but not before.

  • Armpit (axillary). This is the least reliable but may be used for a first pass to check a child of any age with signs of illness. The provider may want to confirm with a rectal temperature.

  • Mouth (oral). Don’t use a thermometer in your child’s mouth until he or she is at least 4 years old.

Use the rectal thermometer with care. Follow the product maker’s directions for correct use. Insert it gently. Label it and make sure it’s not used in the mouth. It may pass on germs from the stool. If you don’t feel OK using a rectal thermometer, ask the healthcare provider what type to use instead. When you talk with any healthcare provider about your child’s fever, tell him or her which type you used.

Below are guidelines to know if your young child has a fever. Your child’s healthcare provider may give you different numbers for your child. Follow your provider’s specific instructions.

Fever readings for a baby under 3 months old:

  • First, ask your child’s healthcare provider how you should take the temperature.

  • Rectal or forehead: 100.4°F (38°C) or higher

  • Armpit: 99°F (37.2°C) or higher

Fever readings for a child age 3 months to 36 months (3 years):

  • Rectal, forehead, or ear: 102°F (38.9°C) or higher

  • Armpit: 101°F (38.3°C) or higher

Call the healthcare provider in these cases:

  • Repeated temperature of 104°F (40°C) or higher in a child of any age

  • Fever of 100.4° (38°C) or higher in baby younger than 3 months

  • Fever that lasts more than 24 hours in a child under age 2

  • Fever that lasts for 3 days in a child age 2 or older

Online Medical Reviewer: Donna Freeborn PhD CNM FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: Heather Trevino
Online Medical Reviewer: Liora C Adler MD
Date Last Reviewed: 4/1/2020
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