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Circumcision: Discharge instructions

Article Translations: (Spanish) (Somali)

What is a circumcision?

A circumcision is a surgery to remove the foreskin from the penis.

What can I expect after the procedure?

The end of the penis may be red and swollen. It may ooze a little blood for the first several hours, and may be tender and swollen for a few days. It will heal in about a week. If there are stitches, they will dissolve on their own within 1 to 3 weeks.

The day after the procedure, your son may return to school or daycare. Avoid any riding toys or straddling activities.

How should I care for the incision?

If your son wears diapers, check for bleeding or drainage each time you change them. Clean the diaper area as you normally do.

Apply a glob of the ointment recommended by the doctor to the incision. Let it melt around the area; do not try to spread it. Do this at each diaper change as directed.

For older boys not in diapers, apply the ointment 4 times a day for 1 week. You may want to use thin mini-pads in the underwear to reduce stains.

The dressing will fall off on its own in the next few days. Remove if it falls to the base of the penis causing an area of constriction.

After 24 hours, your son may bathe or shower. Don't rub the area, but squeeze water from the washcloth over the site. Do not wash off the white or yellow colored drainage that is a normal part of the healing process. It will go away as the circumcision heals. After the third day, during baths gently pull back the remaining foreskin, to keep it clean and keep it from sticking. If bleeding occurs, apply gentle pressure to the incision for 5 minutes. If bleeding does not stop or starts again, call the doctor.

What can my child eat?

Your child may go back to his regular diet.

How active can my child be?

Healing can take several days. For older boys encourage quiet play or non-strenuous activity initially. Your child should be able to return to normal activity within a week.

What else do I need to know?

See your Patient Discharge Summary sheet for specific instructions about pain medicines and when to see the doctor again.

When should I call the doctor?

  • bleeding from the incision that does not stop after 5 minutes of gentle pressure
  • not urinating at least every 8 hours
  • pain that is not relieved with the medicine that was prescribed
  • temperature higher than 102° F (38.9°C)
  • increasing swelling, pain, or redness around the area after the first 48 hours
  • cloudy drainage coming from the incision
  • the circumcision does not seem to be healing


This sheet is not specific to your son, but provides general information. If you have any questions about your child's condition, please call the clinic.

Last reviewed 2/2018

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit

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