A man nearly lost part of his penis after pubic hair got caught around his tip and cut off its blood supply.
Medics claim the uncircumcised man’s ordeal — which has left him with a deformed member — could have been avoided if he washed properly.
The 57-year-old, who wasn’t named, ‘rarely’ retracted his foreskin to clean, according to the Australian urologists who treated him.
He also urinated sitting down, meaning that the build-up of hair that collected under his foreskin went unnoticed.
Surgeons described the hairs as being ‘matted together’ and having formed a ‘tight ring’ under his glans — the head of the penis.
They believe it had accumulated after a ‘significant’ amount of time — although were clueless as to how long the man had spent in pain.
Experts told MailOnline his ‘fortunately very rare’ case serves as a warning to men to clean beneath the foreskin regularly. The man still has a functioning penis, although others might not be so lucky.
A homeless man nearly lost his penis after pubic hair that got caught around his tip made it swell up and cut off its blood supply in Australia
The man, from Geelong, Victoria, was in pain for a fortnight before seeking help. He also had a swollen glans.
He had no fixed address and hopped between living with friends and families, a case report of his medical tale revealed.
He was referred to the emergency department of Geelong University Hospital by his GP, after drugs failed to help.
The family doctor did not pull back the skin, so did not notice the issue — allowing it to become worse.
Hospital doctors described the man — who suffered from anxiety, depression, type 2 diabetes and hypertension — as being ‘unkempt’.
After pulling back his foreskin they found the mass of hairs tied around the penis just below the head, strangling its width to just 0.4 inches (1cm) in diameter.
The trapped hairs had ‘matted together forming a tight ring’ over time, doctors wrote in Urology Case Reports — causing extensive wounds and scars. It had completely divided his urethra at the end.
His condition is known as hair tourniquet syndrome, when a hair or thread becomes tightly wrapped around fingers, toes or genitals.
It usually occurs in children and can cut off blood supply. It can require surgery and occasionally amputation.
Dr Angela Holmes and fellow urologists at the hospital cut off the hair immediately but told the man he would have to have an operation to save the remaining tissue.
WHAT IS HAIR TOURNIQUET SYNDROME?
Hair tourniquet syndrome is a medical condition where a hair or thread becomes tightly tied to a finger, toe or genitals, cutting off circulation and potentially leading to infection and amputation.
The problem usually affects young babies and is most common when mothers are shedding hair post-pregnancy.
The hair can become trapped in blankets, socks, or sleepsuits and wrap around the appendage.
The hair is often so thin it can be easily missed by parents — and doctors.
It is identified with magnification and cut away, usually with small scissors.
Sometimes surgery is required to remove the ligature. Antibiotics may be prescribed for any infection.
He ran away from hospital after hearing about the risks of surgery, which included losing part of the penis if the wounds did not heal properly.
But two days later he reappeared after doctors attempted to get in contact with him — despite having no mobile phone to be reached on.
He was taken to an operating theatre where doctors then cleaned the wounds to his urethra.
They reattached the tube, sewing it back together and fitted a permanent catheter to allow him to urinate.
The man left hospital against medical advice after one day. Doctors told him to take daily salt baths, antibiotic pills and use an antibiotic ointment on the wound.
Two weeks after the op, he returned after flesh around the stitches began to erode again.
They operated on him again, removing the damaged tissue as well as bacteria and fitted another catheter, this time directly into his bladder. Doctors also circumcised him.
After the second surgery, doctors struggled to find the man again and feared they would not be able to remove the catheter.
However, he visited again after two months. His wounds had mostly healed, though he was left with a deformity to the underside of the glans.
The urethra was repaired and the man was able to urinate on his own, meaning that doctors did not need to carry out further surgeries.
They said his case ‘highlights the challenges in post-operative care in patients with significant anxiety issues, poor health literacy and no fixed abode’.
Dr Rich Viney, a urologist at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, told MailOnline: ‘This is an interesting but fortunately very rare condition.
‘I’ve seen a wide variety of man-made items throttling the penis but not pubic hair.
‘For me the issues are the inadequate examination of the patient in the primary care setting. This should have been identified there and dealt with using a simple stitch cutting blade.
‘The delay in diagnosis will have caused considerable deterioration in the situation with blood being able to flow into the glans penis but not being able to flow out — easily causing swelling which would make the constriction even worse.
‘A vicious cycle. As the erosion got worse it the damaged the urethra.’
He added: ‘The reality is that this could’ve been avoided if the patient were to be undertaking suitable penile hygiene and washing beneath his foreskin regularly.’
More than a fifth of men (21.6 per cent) of men only wash their penis once every few days or even less, according to a survey of 1,100 by The Derm Review.