If you suspect that you or your child may have pinworms, believe it or not, you can relax. Pinworms are not considered dangerous and they do not cause any serious health problems. Not only this, but pinworms are more common that you may think. It is estimated that more than 40 million people become infected with pinworms each year. While people of all ages can become infected with pinworms, children and teens (ages 5-14) make up the majority of new cases reported each year.
Pinworms are easy to see with the naked eye, they are yellow-white in color, and they are very contagious. These threadlike worms deposit eggs around the anus of the infected person. Quite naturally the eggs cause itching around the anus of the infected person, especially at night when pinworms are most active. When the infected person scratches the area around the anus, the eggs can become lodged under the fingernails. This means anything that the infected person touches after scratching can become infected. The eggs can attach to toys, clothing, linen, towels, and even dust. It is not uncommon for pinworm eggs to be spread to food as well.
Fortunately, pinworms do not spread to all areas of the body. In very rare cases pinworms may migrate into the urinary tract or vagina, which causes irritation in these areas. Again, this is extremely rare and it usually goes away on its own, mainly because pinworms must remain in the intestines so that they can feed off of the nutrients in the infected persons food. This is the only way they can survive. The only time that the pinworms crawl out of the body is when they crawl out of the infected persons anus to deposit eggs.
Itching around the anus may be the only symptom most people have of pinworms. As stated earlier, the itching may become more intense at night when the female deposits her eggs. Besides the itching, the person’s sleep may be disturbed, which means they may have a tough time getting a good night’s sleep. In some cases, pinworms may be found in the infected persons stool. Some of the symptoms that pinworms do not cause include:
Â· Bloody stools
Â· Loss of appetite
Â· Stomach pain
Once diagnosed, pinworms are quite easy to treat. A simple pill kills the worms. One of the most common treatment for pinworms is an oral antibiotic called albendazole. Another effective oral antibiotic is mebendazole. Both medications are single dose, and a precautionary dose taken two weeks after the single dose. In addition, it may be necessary to take several tap water enemas to flush out the pinworms.
Unfortunately, because pinworms are highly contagious, it is common for everyone in a single household to have them. To prevent passing pinworms back and forth between family members, it is crucial that all family members be treated at the same time.
To be absolutely sure that all pinworm eggs have been removed from the home, its best to destroy all toys, bedding, clothing, pajamas, and underwear that you think may have been infected. If this proves too difficult, wash all toys, bedding, clothing, pajamas, and underwear several times. Underwear and pajamas should also be washed daily for 2-3 weeks.
One of the most important things you can do to prevent pinworm infections (and any other types of infections) is to wash always your hands after using the bathroom and always wash your hands before eating.