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Pinworms also called thread worms is an infection caused by a small white intestinal worm called Enterobius vermicularis. This worm is about the size of a stable. It resides in the rectum of humans. If a person is infected a female pinworm will leave the intestines through the anus and put eggs on the surrounding skin while the infected person is sleeping.
What are the Symptoms of a Pinworm Infection?
1. Itching around the anus
2. Disturbed sleep because of itching
4. Loss of appetite
6. Difficulty sleeping
7. Itching around the vagina
8. Pains in the abdomen
9. Discharge in the vaginal area
The symptoms are caused because the female is laying her eggs. Most people who are infected have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.
Am I at risk for Pinworm Infection?
In the United States most school aged children, followed by preschoolers have the highest rates for infection. In fact, pinworm infection is the most common worm infection in the United States. In some groups the infection ratio is as high as 50%. In most family situations, more than one family member is infected. Mothers of infected children are at risk, however most adults are less likely to have a pinworm infection. Places like child care centers and schools have reported cases of pinworm infection.
How do I catch Pinworm Infection?
When pinworm eggs are deposited on the skin they become ineffective within a few hours. The eggs however can survive up to two weeks when deposited on clothing, bedding or other objects. When the ineffective pinworm eggs are swallowed the infection occurs. The accidental ingestion comes from touching contaminated surfaces and putting fingers in the mouth after contamination.
How do I know if I have Pinworm Infection?
There are two ways to determine if there is a pinworm infection:
1. Presence of worms around the anus.
2. Cellophane tape anal swab (“scotch tape test”)
When pinworm infection is suspected, a piece of clear, adhesive tape or a pinworm paddle is applies to the anal region. When the eggs get glue to the tape or paddle they get examined under a microscope. Doing this test in the morning is recommended as a bath or bowel movement may remove the eggs. Several samples are given to the doctor as well as samples underneath the fingernails due to scratching. It is rare to see eggs during a lab test in stool or urine; however eggs can sometimes be seen at night in clothes or around the anal area.
How do I treat Pinworm Infection?
Prescription and over-the-counter drugs are recommended for treating pinworm infection. The doctor or health care provider will give the proper diagnosis and treatment. Usually the treatment is in two doses. The second dose should be used two weeks after the first dose is administered. Some doctors recommend doing nothing but waiting the infection out. There are also soothing ointments that will help with itching.
What can I do if I get Pinworm Infection again?
If the infection occurs again, seek the source. Each infected person should do the two dose treatment otherwise the infection will just keep spreading. People that are in contact with the infected person should also be treated even if there are no signs or symptoms of infection. Some may require more than one treatment like four to six treatments two weeks apart.
What can I do to prevent getting Pinworm Infection?
· Shower or bathe in the morning so egg contamination can be reduced.
· Underwear should be changed and washed daily. Try not to wear the same pajamas at night.
· Anytime there is an infection, change underwear, sheets and pajamas after treatment. Eggs do not like sunlight so open the blinds during the day.
· Wash hands after using bathroom, before eating and after changing diapers.
· Make sure nails are short.
· Nail biting and scratching bare anal areas is not recommended. These activities increase self re-infection.