Cleaning a Baby’s Genitalia
There are several ways that physicians can perform a circumcision and there is no one best method. Depending on the method used, you will either have a plastic ring left around the tip of your baby’s penis known as a plastibell or there will not be a plastic ring. When a plastibell is present, you may wish to apply vaseline or A&D ointment to the tip of the penis to protect it from adhering to the diaper. You should keep the area clean each time you change the diaper. Watch for any signs of redness or yellow drainage from the skin around the plastibell. Do not try to help the plastibell fall off in any way, even if it is attached by only a thread of skin. This can cause significant bleeding and/or damage. The ring should fall off within one week. If it has not fallen off within this time, let your pediatrician know. For babies circumcised without a plastibell, gently clean the area with warm water each diaper change and apply a generous amount of Vaseline or A&D ointment to the circumcised skin. Continue to apply this after each diaper change until the area is completely healed (usually 3-5 days). This will protect the area against infection and also prevent the freshly cut skin from sticking to the diaper and possibly bleeding when the diaper is removed. Any time that stool gets on or near the circumcision, use warm water and mild soap to clean the area. Once the area has healed, with each diaper change you want to gently retract the foreskin and clean with warm water. If you do not do this, often the small amount of remaining foreskin will begin to ‘stick’ or adhere to the edge of the head of the penis. Over time the adhesions will continue to form toward the tip of the penis and could require surgical repair. This is easily prevented by simply applying gentle traction to the foreskin and cleaning well.
Uncircumcised males will have foreskin that covers the entire tip of the penis and is “stuck” to the penis when the baby is born. Never forcefully try to retract the foreskin as this will cause significant pain and can harm your baby. When changing a diaper you should gently pull back on the foreskin so that minimal tension is applied and clean the area with warm water. The foreskin will gradually separate from the head of the penis and move freely as your baby gets older. We will demonstrate the proper way to retract the foreskin at your baby’s first visit or in the newborn nursery. If at any point you see swelling, redness, or your baby is having a difficult time producing a stream of urine from inside of the forskin, please notify us immediately.
Proper cleaning of female babies is important to help prevent urinary tract infections. Begin by separating the labia or skin folds with your finger and wipe from the top of the vagina (closest to the belly button) toward the bottom. Use a clean area of the wipe or wash cloth for each wiping motion. This will prevent contaminating the vaginal area with stool. Newborn girls may have a whitish discharge in the vaginal area, and this is normal. It is not necessary to wipe all of the thick white discharge from the skin folds the first time you clean the area. In fact, this may cause irritation. The whitish discharge will disappear after the first few days of life.