World Journal of Pediatrics

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 316–323 | Cite as

Benign penile skin anomalies in children: a primer for pediatricians

  • Marco Castagnetti
  • Mike Leonard
  • Luis Guerra
  • Ciro Esposito
  • Marcello Cimador
Review article



Abnormalities involving the skin coverage of the penis are difficult to define, but they can significantly alter penile appearance, and be a cause of parental concern.

Data sources

The present review was based on a nonsystematic search of the English language medical literature using a combination of key words including "penile skin anomalies" and the specific names of the different conditions.


Conditions were addressed in the following order, those mainly affecting the prepuce (phimosis, balanitis xerotica obliterans, balanitis, paraphimosis), those which alter penile configuration (inconspicuous penis and penile torsion), and lastly focal lesions (cysts, nevi and vascular lesions). Most of these anomalies are congenital, have no or minimal influence on urinary function, and can be detected on clinical examination. Spontaneous improvement is possible. In the majority of cases undergoing surgery, the potential psychological implications of genital malformation on patient development are the main reason for treatment, and the age generally recommended for surgery is after 12 months of age.


This review provides the pediatrician with a handy tool to identify the most common penile skin anomalies, counsel parents adequately, make sensible and evidence based choices for management, and recognize complications or untoward outcomes in patients undergoing surgery.


balanitis xerotica obliterans foreskin penis phimosis 


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Copyright information

© Children's Hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marco Castagnetti
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mike Leonard
    • 1
    • 3
  • Luis Guerra
    • 1
    • 3
  • Ciro Esposito
    • 1
    • 4
  • Marcello Cimador
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.PaduaItaly
  2. 2.Section of Pediatric Urology, Urology UnitUniversity Hospital of PadovaPaduaItaly
  3. 3.Department of Surgery, Division of Pediatric Urology, Children’s Hospital of Eastern OntarioUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  4. 4.Department of PediatricsFederico II University of NaplesPaduaItaly
  5. 5.Section of Pediatric Urology and Pediatric Surgery Unit, Department for Mother & Child Care and UrologyUniversity of PalermoPalermoItaly

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