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How To Remove a Zipper From a Penis


Paul H. Chung

, MD, Sidney Kimmel Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University

Last full review/revision Sep 2020| Content last modified Sep 2020
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Topic Resources

Entrapment of penile skin within a zipper, either within the sliding mechanism or between the zipper teeth, or both, is relieved by cutting the sliding mechanism in half using a wire cutter or bone cutter, or by isolating and gently separating the involved zipper segment. Attempts to unzip the zipper may damage the entrapped skin. Sometimes surgery to excise the involved skin may be needed.

(See also Genital Trauma.)


  • Entrapment of foreskin, penile skin, or scrotal skin within a zipper


Absolute contraindications 

  • None

Relative contraindications

  • None


Complications may include

  • Damage to skin

  • Penile laceration

Edema, due to delay of treatment, may make the procedure more difficult and increase risk of tissue damage and necrosis.

Damage to the penis should be evaluated by a urologist, especially if clinical findings suggest urethral injury.


  • Antiseptic cleanser (eg, povidone iodine)

  • Mineral oil

  • Heavy-duty wire cutter or bone cutter

  • Sturdy shears, to cut through trouser material and across the zipper

  • Small (eg, Iris) scissors, to cut the zipper cloth between specific zipper teeth, if necessary, to remove them individually

  • Topical anesthetic cream or local anesthetic without epinephrine (eg, 1 or 2% lidocaine and a 25- or 27-gauge needle and about a 3-mL syringe)

Additional Considerations

  • This condition is painful, and patients also may be frightened and embarrassed. Calm reassurance is usually adequate to allow the procedure to be done. Occasionally mild sedation may be helpful.


  • Position the patient supine. To facilitate positioning, first use a bandage scissors, if necessary, to cut through the trousers peripherally around the zipper, which will relieve painful traction forces on the site and permit trouser removal.

Step-by-Step Description of Procedure

  • Inject local anesthetic into the area using a 25- or 27-gauge needle, or apply anesthetic cream.

  • Cut the median bar at the wide end of the zipper slider, which connects its front and back plates, using a sturdy wire cutter (diagonal cutter), or bone cutter. (See figure Zipper removal from penile skin.) The slider will fall off in 2 pieces, allowing the zipper to be removed.

  • Alternatively, if no cutters are available, lubricate the zipper and tissue at the affected area, using mineral oil liberally.

  • Wait 10 minutes to allow the mineral oil to spread over the surfaces of the sliding mechanism, zipper teeth, and skin.

  • Make one gentle attempt to unzip the zipper. If this strategy either is deemed not likely to be successful or is unsuccessful, proceed to the next step. Do not damage the entrapped tissue by trying repeatedly to unzip the zipper.

  • As another alternative, if no cutters are available, try to separate the zipper teeth by cutting the cloth between them using a small (eg, Iris) scissors.

Zipper removal from penile skin

Zipper removal from penile skin

If these measures fail or are not feasible:

  • Obtain urologic consultation for possible elliptical skin excision or emergency circumcision.


  • Control bleeding with gentle local pressure.

  • Clean the site with warm water and soap.

  • Apply antibiotic ointment (eg, bacitracin) and wrap loosely in sterile gauze.

Warnings and Common Errors

  • Stop trying to unzip the zipper if one attempt is unsuccessful.

Tips and Tricks

  • Obtain and store appropriate sturdy cutters in a convenient location in advance as they may not be readily available otherwise.

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