What are penile adhesions and skin bridges?

Penile adhesions in circumcised boys occur when the penile shaft skin sticks, or adheres, to the glans of the penis. The glans is the bulbous structure at the end of the penis.

Skin bridges are a thicker, more permanent attachment. They occur when the skin on the shaft of the penis becomes attached to the coronal margin, which is the round border near the tip of the penis.

What are the causes of penile adhesions and skin bridges?

Penile adhesions and skin bridges can occur for a variety of reasons.

Adhesions can occur when the remaining skin is not frequently retracted (pulled back) when too much foreskin is left during a circumcision. They also can happen when the skin of the penis is pushed forward by a large fat pad in the pubic area, giving the penis a “buried” appearance.

Adhesions that are not treated can become skin bridges.

What are the symptoms of penile adhesions and skin bridges?

Penile adhesions and skin bridges often have no symptoms and cause no pain. If they persist as a child grows, however, he may notice a tugging feeling during erections.

Penile adhesions and skin bridges are usually visible to the naked eye. The penis may appear to be buried in the pubic fat pad.

If your child has adhesions, dead skin cells and oil can get trapped under the skin and create a white discharge called smegma. Though this looks like pus, it is not an infection.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy