Treatment of phimosis with topical steroids in 194 children

J Urol. 2003 Mar;169(3):1106-8. doi: 10.1097/01.ju.0000048973.26072.eb.


Purpose: Topical steroids have been advocated as an effective economical alternative to circumcision in boys with phimosis. We evaluated the effectiveness of topical steroid therapy as primary treatment in 194 patients with phimosis.

Methods: Between January 1996 and November 2000, 228 boys 16 years old or younger were referred for consideration of circumcision. When intervention was determined to be necessary, a 6-week course of topical steroids was used as primary treatment. Efficacy of treatment was evaluated at 3 months from initiation of therapy.

Results: Of the 228 patients 15 had such a mild degree of phimosis that no intervention was believed to be necessary, 19 were scheduled directly for circumcision due to cosmetic reasons, parent wishes, or severe phimosis with associated voiding problems and the remaining 194 received topical steroids as primary treatment. Of these 194 patients 25 had coexisting balanitis and 4 had a history of urinary tract infection. Conservative treatment was successful in 87%, 88% and 75% of patients with phimosis alone, coexisting balanitis and history of urinary tract infection, respectively. Overall, circumcision was avoided in 87% of patients treated with topical steroids.

Conclusion: Topical steroids are becoming the standard conservative measure for treating phimosis. Our study supports this trend, with an overall efficacy of 87%.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Adolescent
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Betamethasone / administration & dosage*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Circumcision, Male
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Ointments
  • Phimosis / complications
  • Phimosis / drug therapy*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Ointments
  • Betamethasone