Scaling, what is it? Definition
First of all, what gesture are we really talking about by uncapping your baby? The term “calottage” means sliding the skin that covers the glans towards the base of the penis. This gesture has long been recommended to parents by pediatricians, nurses, who feared that bacteria lodge between the skin of the foreskin and the glans from the first months of life, and create infections. The cracking, sometimes forceful, aimed to better clean this area. A fear that we know is unfounded today, babies’ penises are not “dirty”. “Besides, before this very hygienist period, we did not take care of the foreskin, and there were no particular problems”, recalls Professor Bernard Boillot, pediatric urologist, in Grenoble.
Why is uncapping your baby no longer necessary?
Except in special cases, the recommendations are no longer to retract an infant, nor to force on this small thin skinwhich very often includes adhesions, because too sudden a movement could cause a scarred foreskin and some risks.
- In the past, a sometimes muscular cracking carried out at his doctor’s office to “crack” the foreskin, had above all the effect of provoking microlesionspains, which are useless, and made it impossible to wash for several weeks.
- A softer or progressive cracking, carried out by the parents, does not involve great risks, but proves, in fact, of no great use.
The key word today is patience: “Things get done naturally, over time“confirms the pediatrician who simply recommends another, less invasive gesture to parents who still want to make sure that everything is fine: just pull gently on this skin at the tip of the infant’s penis, to see the orifice through which the urine comes out. “Afterwards, we don’t touch it anymore!” The child will take care of his own uncapping in due time.
Removal of the foreskin by the child: when and how to let him do it?
No need to do it early. On the other hand, it is possible when the child is older, at the time of the shower or the bath, around 5, 6 or 7 years old, to ask him then to “pull” gently on his foreskin “to see the end” of his penis, when he bathes or wants to urinate. “The child is not crazy, he will proceed at his own pace, millimeter by millimeter, without trauma” confirms the urologist, “this simple gesture, performed six times a day, naturally softens the skin”.
When to consult a pediatrician?
If there is therefore no longer any obligation to recap your infant, there are however exceptions and questions that may lead you to consult a doctor or specialist, who will proceed with a recap, treatment or even to surgeryin rare cases.
In case of phimosis in children?
Phimosis, which is too tight skin around the glans creating what is called a preputial ring, often worries parents. “But you have to know that all babies are born with phimosisthere is nothing dramatic in that, it is physiological“(source 1), reassures the specialist. So there is no need to insist and retract a baby with phimosis at all costs. At most, if it persists and worries you, talk to your pediatrician.
In case of preputial urination
Preputial urination is a complication who, on the other hand, asks a specialist to intervene to retract the child’s face when faced with a problem: when the child pees, urine gets stuck in the foreskin which swells, only to flow drop by drop. Although not painful, the phenomenon requires a treatment.
If there is a risk of urinary tract infection
When a significant malformation affects the urinary system (kidneys for example), the doctor must also intervene at the level of the foreskin to prevent a urinary tract infection from developing. “But all these malformations are visible on ultrasoundduring pregnancy”, recalls the specialist. Appointments are therefore already made even before the birth.
Is smegma a sign of poor hygiene?
We call smegma, a yellowish secretion, which looks like wax, produced by the sexual organs, whether it is the furrow of the glans in the boy as the vulvar area in the little girl. And this secretion under the foreskin is also completely normal. “I see worried parents who take it for an infection, or pus. However, not only is it not an infection but a completely banal secretion, but in addition, the smegma has the advantage, by creating small residues, naturally lift the foreskin over time”, specifies Dr. Boilllot. There is therefore nothing to be done against smegma.
Health professionals are now unanimous: on a daily basis, enough water to simply clean baby’s private parts and excessive personal hygiene should be avoided. “The rule is the same as for the vulva of the little girl: we do not pour into an excess of hygiene. The ecosystem present in the private parts is enough to keep them in good health” insists the professor.
How to go about bath time with an infant or young child?
- A simple water wash daily, without excess.
- A little soap if necessary (if stools have soiled the intimate area for example)
- Do not give baby too many baths: neither every day, nor too hot.
- We also avoid multiplying the products in the bath “which, in the end, only dry out the epidermis for an uncomfortable result” specifies the urologist.
In other, more practical terms: don’t let yourself be taken in by hygienist reasons or trendy products: the simplest washing is also the most suitable for your baby.