It is common knowledge that you don’t have to pull back on a baby’s foreskin to get it to detach from the head of the penis (glans). This is a natural process that will occur as the baby grows. Like many aspects of growth and development, a child’s foreskin detaches from the glans gradually. Once the foreskin is fully retractable, it’s important to clean the glans daily with mild soap and water. The purpose of this cleansing is to keep the penis clean and wash away any smegma that accumulated under the foreskin. Smegma is a whitish, greasy substance that is found normally in uncircumcised males.
There is a finding that may occur in uncircumcised children, which can worry parents. Smegma sometimes accumulates under the foreskin before it fully retracts. These accumulations are called “smegma pearls” because they have a round or oval appearance. Most of the time, they are whitish, but on occasion they have a yellowish hue. If this happens, parents may conclude that their child has an infection. There is an easy way to determine if the child has foreskin infection vs. a smegma pearl. The tissue surrounding an infection is red, swollen and tender. If your baby has a white or yellow accumulation under the foreskin that doesn’t look angry and isn’t tender to touch, it’s not likely to be infected. Of course, if you have any questions about this, call your doctor.