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While smegma is naturally not a threat to human’s health, its radiating odor and the accumulation over time can cause some trouble. Not including the fact that people usually mistake smegma for some other more serious illness based on its location and unpleasant smell.
If you want to know more about this condition and how to get rid of smegma, this is the article that you’ve been looking for. We will answer all of your possible questions. Take a look!
What is smegma?
Smegma is the build-up of oil, moisturizer and shed epithelial cells in the genitalia. It can appear under the foreskin in uncircumcised males or collect around the clitoris and the folds of the labia in females.
Smegma is a benign condition that can exist naturally in anyone and shouldn’t be confused as a sign of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases). Yet, left untreated, smegma can cause some side effects such as unpleasant smell or irritation and abrasion of the genitalia.
What causes smegma?
As we mentioned before, the major component of smegma is oil or sebum. It is naturally secreted by your body every day and plays a role in moisturizing and cleaning the genitalia. Especially in males, sebum is the crucial factor that facilitates the movement between the glans and the foreskin during intercourse.
In females, sebum is the product of sebaceous glands that locate around the clitoris and the labia majora. It is believed to accumulate with desquamating epithelial cells to form smegma.
In males, there are many theories about the appearance of smegma. At first, Tyson’s gland that lays near the frenulum was thought to be the source of sebum but subsequent studies haven’t been able to detect these glands.
On the other hand, another research stated that smegma is the concentration of shed skin cells from the mucosal surface of the foreskin. Living cells are continuously growing toward the surface, undergo fatty degeneration and then shed off as smegma .
Besides fundamental component like oil and shed epithelial cells, smegma in males is also the result of the urethral glands of Littré, prostatic, seminal glands secretion and possibly a bit of urine. In combination with cytokines, lysozymes, chymotrypsin, neutrophil elastase and Cathepsin B, smegma may also aid in immunity activity .
In conclusion, you can see that smegma is actually formed by your body every day and how useful it can be to the genitalia, not a sign of any diseases. Smegma only becomes noticeable when it has a chance to accumulate over time because of failure to get rid of it in the private part.
Symptoms of smegma
Smegma is very easy to spot. For those who don’t know how to identify them, these are few characteristics of it.
- Location: Under the foreskin in the penis in males; Around the clitoris or between the fold of vagina’s labia in females.
- Color: Smegma is usually white. It can be darker with different skin tone, though.
- Consistency: Thick and cheese-like.
- Smell: Really distinctive odor. The mixology of dead epithelial cells and sebum have never end to be the ideal environment for bacteria to thrive on. The outbreak of bacteria is the cause of this unpleasant smell.
Smegma is common in many mammals and also serves as lubricant and cleaning agent like human-beings. In veterinary medicine, smegma can promote the carriage of Taylorella equigenitalis – the cause of contagious equine metritis and be analyzed to detect urogenital tract pathogens such as Tritrichomonas foetus.
How about the complications of smegma among human? In fact, there is no correlation between smegma and other diseases. Scientists used to believe that smegma is related to cervix cancer and penile cancer but further research has proved that there is no connection between them. However, it can increase the risk of having cancer and make it more difficult to see very early cancer so trying to get rid of smegma is not entirely extra.
To add up, regardless of being totally harmless at its core, smegma can affect people’s self-esteem and confidence, mostly in sex life because of the unpleasant scent. Moreover, if left uncleaned, too much of smegma can make the foreskin stick to the penis, which can become painful during erection as the foreskin cannot be rolled back smoothly.
Another complications of smegma’s build-up are balanitis- foreskin inflammation and balanoposthitis- foreskin and glans inflammation. The symptoms of these diseases include redness, irritation, inflammation and swelling of the penis. In fact, balanitis is very common as it affects approximately one out of 20 men in the US .
Regarding female, the build-up of smegma causes clitoral adhesion which makes you feel uncomfortable or even painful during stimulation.
Risk factors of smegma
Why some people tend to have smegma frequently when others wouldn’t bother to know how to get rid of it? Well, even though smegma appears in everyone, technically, there are some factors below that can make it more visible or pop up more often.
First of all, uncircumcised men are easier to have smegma than circumcised ones. The cavity between the foreskin and the penis is a trap for shed epithelial cells, sebum, and bacteria to accumulate. It also means that men have to suffer from phimosis – a condition where the foreskin is too tight to be pulled back completely – are incredibly susceptible to smegma.
Although there are no gender traits in females that can increase the risk of having smegma, women in the US actually are more likely to experience smegma than men because the rate circumcised male is relatively high.
Also, the risk of having smegma is related to age. The rate of having smegma raises from 1% at the age of 7-9 years old to 5% at the age of 14-17 .
Although sebaceous glands are already active during childhood, there is little to none smegma produced. And then sebum production starts to increase during puberty, reach the climax when a person at sexual maturity and then decline from the middle-age until there is no visible smegma in old age. To explain this, it is probably because of the fluctuation of sex-hormones production and activity throughout the year.
Is smegma contagious?
Newly formed smegma is not contagious as it only consists of oil and desquamating epithelial cells. If smegma is not removed usually enough, the outbreak of bacteria may cause some problem and bacteria can spread during intercourse.
However, there hasn’t been any firm evidence about the relationship between smegma and urogenital infection or any contagious illness. Further researching is needed, but it’s probably because the amount of smegma is too small to spread to other people.
How to distinguish between smegma and STDs or urogenital infection?
People are usually afraid of smegma and eager to get rid of it as smegma can resemble STDs or infection (based on its disturbing smell discharge). Speaking of STDs or urogenital infection, it’s a vast spectrum, but we can boil down to a few points to help you differentiate them.
In general, unless smegma was left untreated for a long time, it never comes along with any unusual phenomenon like redness, irritation, pain and so on. Moreover, smegma will go away after regular and proper hygiene, unlike STDs that requires clinical treatment.
Friendly reminder, even when your condition’s symptoms match our description, don’t hesitate to go check if you are skeptical that it is not smegma based on experience or history of unsafe sex. An examination and advice from professionals are always more trustworthy than self-diagnose.
Is there a test for smegma?
The answer is no. As smegma has some very distinctive features, even you can identify smegma yourself. In case you want to be sure, your doctor wouldn’t need to run a test for this condition, still.
How long does it take to get rid of smegma?
After proper cleaning of the genitalia, smegma will disappear. However, as smegma naturally exists in anybody, it will definitely come back if there is no frequent hygiene routine following up.
How to get rid of smegma (and its complications) with conventional treatment?
Conventional treatments can make smegma disappear in a longer period and bring many additional benefits. They are usually not necessary for a simple condition like smegma, but in some circumstances, conventional treatments are the best solution.
In this section, we’ll focus on circumcision – the most common conventional treatment for smegma.
Intact foreskin not only creates a perfect trap for smegma and bacteria to accumulate but also makes the process of removing smegma more difficult, especially with people that have to suffer from phimosis. So how circumcision becomes a long-lasting solution to get rid of smegma in males is undeniable.
Even though circumcision may seem to be an overkill for minor trouble like smegma, it actually offers more advantages than you think. First of all, removing the foreskin will prevent phimosis – a condition where the foreskin can not fully be retracted, as we explained before.
Secondly, after having circumcision, the cleaning routine will be much easier and simpler. Therefore, the growth of bacteria in the genital area will decrease and so does the rate of having urogenital diseases such as balanitis, penile cancer and cervical cancer in the female partner.
However, despite circumcision’s potential benefits, there is always a chance for complications, just like any surgery:
- Bleeding: Because circumcision is a small surgery, it’s rare to lose a significant amount of blood during or after the procedure unless the patient has underlying bleeding disorders.
- Post-operative infection: Like bleeding, infection is also a common complication that can happen to any surgery. By having surgery in a trustworthy clinic and using antibiotic afterward, the rate of infection is very low.
- Insufficient/ Excessive foreskin removed
- Meatitis – inflammation of the opening of the penis
- Other injuries to the penis
The need of having newborn circumcision is still controversial. Although the American Academy of Pediatrics concluded that the risks are outweighed by circumcision’s multiple advantages, the procedure is not good enough to become compulsory newborn intervention. However, it’s not a dangerous surgery either, so it’s okay to have circumcised for yourself or your sons based on personal preference, religion, and culture.
Just remember that no matter how low the risk is, please consult with your doctor to aware of the procedure’s risk and see whether it’s worth it. To get rid of smegma only as an adult, we’ll say that it’s not unless you already have to experience other sexual health conditions like balanitis, balanoposthitis or phimosis.
Circumcision has been performed not only for medical purpose but also for cultural or religious belief for a long time. There’s a lot more to say about this procedure so in case you’re interested or want to know more about circumcision, check this out:
Conventional treatments for smegma’s complications
Besides circumcision, there are other available conventional methods. However, it is used only to relieve complications of smegma so we are just going to mention it briefly:
Smegma accumulation may stimulate bacteria or fungi growth and lead to balanitis, balanoposthitis or posthitis. If yeast infection sets off the condition, you’ll be advised to use antifungal.
Clotrimazole (Mycelex, Lotrimin) is an excellent example of effective antifungal cream that can be purchased over-the-counter. Apply it to the affected area every day for at least ten days. Based on the severity of the disease, your doctor may prescribe a more powerful antifungal, either in pill or cream form.
Bacteria infection is also a common cause of balanitis or balanoposthitis – one of smegma’s complications. You’ll be told to use antibiotic cream in this case and antibiotic pill if necessary.
It is used to reduce inflammation. However, steroid cream can worsen the infection in some case so you should buy it only when it’s prescribed by a physician.
How to get rid of smegma with home remedies
With a benign condition like smegma, conventional treatments can be an overkill. So home remedies are more favorable in this case, and its effectiveness is no less than conventional treatments. Let’s see how it can help you to get rid of smegma:
Proper cleaning in adult male
Hygiene is the key to remove smegma. We have been taught to clean ourselves since we are a child, but now, how to do it correctly to get rid of smegma is a question. Only washing the penis roughly or usually neglecting it still put you at risk of having smegma, especially in uncircumcised person. Take a look at our instruction to see if you really know how to get rid of smegma:
Retract your foreskin gently
In case you are not suffered from phimosis, this shall be easy. However, as smegma sometimes can be dry, hard and make the foreskin stick to the glans, the process may turn painful.
In such circumstances, using a few drops of olive oil is a great idea. Avoid using force since it can tear up the region and lead to secondary infection. On the other hand, olive oil will soften the mucosa surface and facilitate the movement. Another choice is taking a long bath, using some home remedies and working with the foreskin slowly until it can easily be pulled back (see the “how to get rid of smegma with home remedies” for more details).
Washing the head of the penis
Use mild soap and lukewarm water to clean the head of the penis and the mucosal surface of the foreskin. The private area is very sensitive so remember to scrub it tenderly and avoid using harsh ingredients to prevent irritation.
If smegma is hard and difficult to wash, olive oil again will be helpful. Don’t scrape it with hard devices or cotton swabs to prevent lesions and infection.
Rinse off the area thoroughly
Don’t leave any soap left on the penis because it can lead to redness and irritation. Then dry off the area carefully with a soft towel.
“Replace” the foreskin back
A few minutes is how long that it takes to get rid of smegma. Repeat this routine often to make sure smegma won’t come back.
For the record, if the condition doesn’t seem to improve over a week of proper and frequent cleaning or even get worse, contact your doctor immediately. The same with redness, inflammation or swelling in the genital area because you’ve probably had something else more serious than smegma.
Genital hygiene in uncircumcised male children
Even though smegma is less likely to show up before puberty, it’s not impossible. In children, smegma appears as “pearls” or white dots under the foreskin. However, because the foreskin does not separate anatomically from the glans at this age, the cleaning procedure in uncircumcised kids will be more challenging. So how to get rid of children’s smegma?
First of all, because the foreskin still attaches to the end of the penis, forcing it to retract will only lead to bleeding, pain, and lesion to the genitalia. Instead, sponge bath the area externally in a gentle way. There is no need to use irrigation or cotton swab either as it can hurt the genitals.
When the boys’ foreskin can be pulled back, washing under the foreskin at times is crucial to prevent smegma. Once the retraction process is complete, the routine should be done as a hygiene habit. The steps are similar to the adult’s one:
- Gently retract the foreskin. You can instruct your kids to it by themselves or do it for them if the kids are too young.
- Use mild soap and water to clean the whole genital area including the glans and the foreskin’s mucosal surface- the parts that accumulate smegma.
- Rinse off the soap carefully so that there is no leftover and dry the skin.
- Gently put the foreskin back to its previous position.
Teach your son to do this by themselves to help them know how to get rid of smegma, aware of the importance of sexual health and to develop personal hygiene habits.
Hygiene in female
Smegma can be an issue in any gender so how to get rid of it in women? Well, proper personal hygiene is still the best and easiest way to clean off smegma, just with a bit different routine:
- Gently spread two vaginal folds
- Use the thumb and index finger to do that if it’s needed.
- Use mild soap and lukewarm water
- Clean the folds and remove smegma. Don’t let soap get into the vaginal opening to prevent irritation.
- Rinse off the area
- Dry the genital and finish
Different vaginal discharge and odor, pain or irritation may indicate something else other than smegma. Smegma is benign, and it should be removed completely after proper hygiene, so in case you see no improvement after a week or see other accompanying symptoms, please seek professional advice.
For more details on how to clean your vagina properly, we hope that this video is helpful:
Epsom salt baths and saline rinse
According to an article from Genitourin med from 1997, regularly rinsing off and washing under the foreskin, the clitoris or vaginal folds with saline can reduce inflammation and remove smegma within a week. This possibly comes from saline’s anti-microbial effect .
On the other hand, Epsom salt- a naturally pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate – is also reported to be effective to get rid of smegma. There haven’t any studies about this but considering other health benefits of Epsom salt such as relieving pain, reducing stress, decreasing inflammation, detoxifying and improving nutrient absorption, it’s still worth trying .
Rising off the glans with saline is easy but how to use Epsom salt to get rid of smegma? You can follow our instructions below:
- Mixing 2-3 cups of Epsom salt with the bathwater
- Soaking for at least 40 minutes.
The first 20 minutes is to soften hard smegma and allow your body to eliminate toxin and the remaining is to allow your body to absorb essential ions.
Bath time is a pleasant and relaxing time so you can adjust the recipe a little by including some of your favorite ingredients. To add up the effect of detoxification, you can drink water before, during and after taking a bath.
Bicarbonate of soda
With smegma that has been hard and gives off disgusting smell, bicarbonate soda or baking soda is what you should go for. Moreover, bicarbonate soda will also rebalance the pH in the genitalia and prevent infection or inflammation.
For males dissolving 3-4 tablespoons of baking soda in a bowl of water and then let the penis soak for 15 minutes before removing smegma.
For females, it’ll be easier to take a bicarbonate soda bath. One cupful of baking soda is how much you should put in your bath water. Soak and then follow the hygiene routine that we’ve discussed before to get rid of smegma.
Apple cider vinegar
Being mixology of dead cells and sebum, there is no doubt that smegma is a bacteria-friendly environment. Bacteria’s development will make a simple and benign condition like smegma complicated.
So how about using apple cider vinegar not only to get rid of smegma but also to prevent its complications? From internally, apple cider vinegar can boost your immune system. You can choose to drink apple cider vinegar either with water or in raw form (you can add some honey to make it more enjoyable, though!).
From externally, apple cider vinegar with its acid nature will loosen the smegma and act as an antimicrobial to kill off bacteria. Using a diluted solution of apple cider vinegar to rinse off the genitals thoroughly or taking a bath with it.
Coconut oil is one of the best remedies when it comes to smegma elimination. Besides baking soda, olive oil or saline, using coconut oil is how you should handle harden smegma.
Coconut oil will assist you to get rid of smegma by softening stubborn sticky smegma – a result of inadequate or improper hygiene for a long time.
On the other hand, by containing high level of lauric acid – an antifungal and antiseptic fatty acid – coconut can prevent infection, just like apple cider vinegar . Especially in women, because they are more susceptible to urinary tract infection, this could mean a lot as smegma is a feast to yeast and bacteria.
The end of this list is a very common ingredient: garlic. We all know how powerful garlic can be regarding health benefits, but is it able to get rid of smegma as well?
Crush a clove of garlic. Then mix it with coconut oil, apply the paste to the glans or the vaginal and rinse off carefully afterward. Besides, adding more garlic to your meal, the anti-microbial and enhancing immunity function of garlic will lower the risk of inflammation and infection caused by smegma.
How to prevent smegma
If you have done all the methods that we presented before, but it doesn’t work out, take a look at these two tips to see if there were anything that you have done wrong:
Avoid hygiene product
The first thing to avoid is using talcum powder to dry the penis after taking a shower. Even though it can be effective at first, the powder becomes moist after and promotes smegma formation. You should stop this habit, at least before the smegma formation reduces.
Also, no matter how disturbing smegma’s odor can be, don’t apply deodorant or antiperspirant to the private area to get rid of the smell. These types of product can lock down oil and moisture and make the smegma condition even worse.
Likewise, women should also stay away from hygiene product such as feminine spray, oily substances and deodorant like men do for smegma elimination process.
On the other hand, vaginal douching should also be on the “Don’ts” list. In contrary to the common belief that this procedure will deliver a deep and careful clean, vaginal douching is up to no good. It can mess up vaginal pH and boost bacteria growth. The actual benefits of douching also have very little scientific facts to back up so avoiding it is the best option after all.
Wear correct underwear
Preventing the biological concoction of oily residue and shed epithelial cells to bake is also a method to dispose of smegma. By creating a hostile environment to bacteria, smegma is not likely to come back, or at least it will radiate less unpleasant smell.
So how to choose the right underwear? Firstly, incline to wear cotton underwear and avoid as much as possible any fabric types that won’t allow the genitals to breathe like acetate, thongs or nylon.
Furthermore, to get rid of smegma, the number of nylon pantyhose or legging in your closet should also be cut down, especially in the summer because these type of cloth will trap dirt, sweat, sebum and shed skin cells.
Q&A on how to get rid of smegma
1. Is it bad if you have smegma?
Not really. Smegma is a natural body’s product including sebum and desquamating epithelial cells. Smegma doesn’t indicate any underlying diseases, but you still need to get rid of it to prevent further complications.
2. Is Smegma normal for males?
Yes, smegma can happen in both genders. Regarding males, an uncircumcised penis is more likely to form smegma. However, as we mentioned before, it’s normal to have smegma, so you don’t have to worry about its appearance.
3. How do I get rid of hard smegma on my penis?
If you haven’t try to get rid of smegma for a long time, it can be hardened and sticky. In such case, a few drops of olive oil will be a great help. Coconut oil, Epsom salt bath, saline rinse, baking soda or apple cider vinegar are also believed to have the similar effect.
After smegma is softened, clean the penis gently and rinse off afterward. For more detail about the procedure, scroll back to the “how to get rid of smegma with home remedies” section!
4. Can smegma cause infections?
Yes. Over-accumulation of smegma can lead to balanitis – inflammation of the foreskin. This is one of the smegma’s complications.
5. How do you get rid of an odor caused by smegma?
Smegma’s odor is caused by bacterial outbreak so to get rid of that smell the answer is to remove smegma. Frequent, proper hygiene and wearing the right underwear is essential. Well, home remedies like apple cider vinegar or bicarbonate soda will also do the trick to remove the smell temporarily.
However, remember not to use deodorant or feminine spray to chase away the unpleasant scent. The smell may fade off for a while, but smegma production will increase much more.
Hopefully, we have been able to cover up all the aspect revolving around smegma, not only answering the primary question “how to get rid of smegma.” If there is still anything that you need the answer or you realize that we’re misinformed in some details, please let us know! If you like our website, sign up for newsletters, share this article on your social media or at least please rate this article five stars! Thank you very much!