What is a pinworm?
Pinworms are small thread-like, white and thin parasitic worms, found in the rectum and colon of humans. Pinworm is a nematode (roundworm), known as Enterobius vermicularis.
Pinworms infection is one of the commonest intestinal infections. These parasites infect the intestine and lay eggs around the anus. Pinworms infect millions of people worldwide and more particularly, kids. Pinworm infections are also referred as:
- Threadworm infection
- Seatworm infection
How do Pinworms spread?
Pinworms spread by the faecal-oral route that is the eggs spread from the anus to others mouth by:
- Directly by hand (fingers and fingernails)
- Indirectly by contaminated food, clothing, bedding, toys, etc.
The pinworm eggs can survive for 2-3 weeks on contaminated food, clothing, etc. and are easily transmitted by fingernails or other sources of contamination. When an infected individual scratches his bottom, the microscopic eggs can be easily carried in the fingernails.
A pinworm infection leads to itching around the anus that can cause problems with the sleep and result in restlessness.
The symptoms arise due to the female pinworm laying eggs. Some individuals may not have any symptoms at all.
How is a pinworm infection diagnosed?
Usually, the doctor places a piece of clear tape on your child’s rectum (tape test). The clear tape is analysed under a microscope to confirm the presence of pinworm eggs. The test is usually done three times consecutively to detect the eggs.
How is a pinworm infection treated?
The doctor will recommend antiworm medication which is administered in two separate doses, two weeks apart. Medication to address the itching can be prescribed.
Sometimes, the entire family may be prescribed the drug, if reoccurrences in your child have been reported.
How can pinworm infection be prevented?
Preventive measures to avoid its reoccurrence include:
- Proper hand hygiene especially after toilet, before eating and playing outdoors.
- Routine changing and washing of undergarments, pyjamas, bed sheets, etc. in hot water until the infection subsides.
- Kid’s fingernails must be clipped and kept short
If your child has been treated for a pinworm infection, follow the treatment recommended by your doctor and take preventive measures. Go for follow-up visits with your doctor.
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- Pinworm Infection FAQs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/pinworm/gen_info/faqs.html. Accessed 20 Dec 16.
- Pinworm infection. FamilyDoctor. http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/pinworm-infection.html. Accessed 20 Dec 16.
- Kidshealth.org. http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/pinworm.html#. Accessed 20 Dec 16.