The foreskin is a vital part of the equipment for uncircumcised men; it protects the delicate tissue underneath, provides incredible sensations and helps to ease the way during masturbation and partner sex. But when foreskin problems develop, they can cause serious pain, not to mention embarrassment, and they can sideline a guy for days or even weeks if they are not treated properly. Fortunately, men can avoid many of these issues by following some simple penis care rules.

What are some common foreskin problems?

- It is too tight! Men who have an especially long foreskin or who have experienced an injury that has caused the skin to contract as it heals may find that it becomes difficult to retract the foreskin over the head of the penis. This can cause difficulties during sex, and it can make men more prone to infections. Some men can solve the problem by very gently working at retracting the foreskin - this should be done gradually, over the course of weeks. It is best to check with a doctor before attempting self-treatment; in some cases, prescription creams may help.

- It is swollen and red. This issue may be caused by balanitis, an inflammatory condition that is usually the result of poor hygiene. Treating balanitis mainly involves keeping the penis - including the parts covered by the foreskin - clean and dry. Doctors may also suggest medicated creams in some cases.

- It is bleeding. Men who experience bleeding after a particularly vigorous session may have a torn frenulum - this is the little band of skin that connects the foreskin to the area just under the head of the penis. A torn frenulum is not a big concern, and it should heal on its own in a few days. It is best to abstain from any sexual activity until it is fully healed.

- It smells bad. Most uncircumcised men will have doubtless noticed a whitish, pasty substance that builds up underneath the foreskin. This material is called smegma, and it consists of dead skin cells, body oils and other fluids that have accumulated into a lump of goo. This substance is highly attractive to bacteria, and because of this, it can be extremely smelly. Cleaning under the foreskin is the best way to control the unpleasant smell.

Caring for the foreskin

Not all foreskin problems can be avoided, but engaging in proper penis care on a daily basis can help decrease the likelihood that they happen. These common-sense steps should be part of every uncut guy’s hygiene routine:

1) Wash. Hopefully, most guys are doing this anyway, but men who are uncut need to be especially vigilant about keeping things clean under the hood. In the shower, men should very gently roll back the foreskin and use their fingertips to wipe away any built-up material. Standard soaps and shower gels are not ideal for washing the penis, because they contain detergents and other chemicals that can irritate the skin. Hypoallergenic cleansers, or even baby wash, are recommended instead.

2) Rinse. This step is obvious, of course, but it is very important, so it is worth mentioning. After washing gently, all traces of cleanser should be rinsed away; any cleanser that is left behind can dry up and form a film that causes irritation.

3) Dry. Once the area is clean, it should be dried carefully BEFORE replacing the foreskin; keep in mind that warm, damp skin provides a haven for both bacteria and Candida yeast. Once the head is dry, the foreskin should be rolled back down to its original position.

4) Moisturize. Applying a high-quality moisturizer that is enriched with skin-friendly nutrients is a good way to reduce the chances of tearing and injury to the foreskin, as well as maintaining its natural elasticity. A penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil) is ideal for this purpose, as it is designed for the delicate skin of the penis.