Worms in children: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Incidences of intestinal worms are very common among children. When babies start to sit, crawl, or grasp objects, they may touch and swallow the tiny eggs of the worms without realising it. Older kids running around or playing in the mud, stagnant pools of water, or unhygienic places, or from eating unhygienic food, can also get infested with intestinal worms. These eggs stay in the intestinal lining, hatch, and then lay more eggs.

Worms in children

Threadworms (appear like pieces of thick thread and are half a centimetre long) are the most common type of worms that affect children.

What symptoms indicate that my child has worm infestation?

Very often no symptoms may be present to indicate the presence of worms in your child’s stomach. Sometimes, the symptoms are so negligible and gradual in their appearance that they may be ignored or overlooked. Some of the symptoms that manifest due to the presence of worms, include:

  • Appetite loss due to pain and discomfort in the tummy
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Anaemia
  • Rashes
  • Severe itching and pain around the anus

How does it affect my child?

Severe and untreated cases of worm infestation in a child can lead to malnutrition, low weight gain, anaemia, lack of sleep, fatigue, etc. These clinical features can, in turn, damage his/her immune system and cause more infections and illnesses. Hence, it is important that timely treatment is provided to the affected child to ensure that he/she is worm free.

Worms in children

How can I know if my child has worms?

Intestinal worm infestation is a very common occurrence, especially in babies. Hence, it is important that you periodically look for worms. You may be able to find one or more worms crawling out of your baby’s rectum if you look closely using a torch light or these may be evident in the baby’s stools as well. You can also do/get the following tests done to check for worms:

  • Stick a piece of tape around the baby’s or child’s anus to collect the worm of the eggs and send the tape for testing.
  • Look for worm eggs under the fingernails.
  • The paediatrician may run cotton swab around the baby or child’s bottom to collect worm eggs.
  • Get the stool sample eExamined in the laboratory for worms.
  • In cases of the severe infestation of worms, your physician may use the ultrasound to look for the exact location of the worms in the intestine.

How do I treat my child for worms?

Getting rid of the worms is as easy as it was to get infected with them. All worm infections can be  treated effectively with oral medication. Check with your paediatrician for deworming medicines based on the type of the worm your child has. Be aware that you should never use over-the-counter deworming medications as they can lead to more complications. Usually deworming is used now more often as a precaution than as a treatment, especially among school going children. As worm infections are contagious, it is important that you do periodic deworming of your child after consulting your physician.

Preventive measures

Prevention is better than cure. It is not possible to keep your child confined to a hygienic environment at all times. However, there are some precautions that you can take to ensure that your child does not catch worm infestations. Following are some of the preventive measures that you can follow:

  • Ensure that you change your baby’s diaper regularly.
  • Use a good, non-toxic disinfectant for your floors to keep them clean and worm free.
  • Keep a watch on what your baby puts in her or his mouth.
  • Ensure that you wash your hands before feeding your child and use clean and washed vessels.
  • If your child is old enough, then ensure that they follow routine hygiene of washing their hands and feet with disinfectant soap after playing and before eating anything.
  • Keep your house and surroundings clean and trash free.
  • Do not allow water to stagnate in and around your house.
  • Include food items such as papaya, garlic, coconut, carrots, ash gourd, pumpkin, pomegranate, etc. as these are known for their deworming properties.

Consult a top Pediatrician

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  • Intestinal parasites – aboutkidshealth – Accessed on April 23, 2016 – http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/EN/HEALTHAZ/CONDITIONSANDDISEASES/DIGESTIVESYSTEMDISORDERS/Pages/Intestinal-Parasites.aspx
  • http://cghealth.nic.in/ehealth/2013/QA_website/5StandardTreatmentGuidelines/WormInfestation.pdf
  • Symptoms of intestinal worms in children – Livestrong – Accessed on April 23, 2016 – http://www.livestrong.com/article/223821-symptoms-of-intestinal-worms-in-children/
  • How to know if your baby has worms – babycenter – Accessed on April 23, 2016 – http://www.babycenter.in/a1050897/how-to-know-if-your-baby-has-worms
  • All about deworming kids and adults – Accessed on April 23, 2016 – http://www.thehealthsite.com/diseases-conditions/deworming-for-kids-and-adults-f1115/

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