The symptoms of pinworm are the same in children as they are in adults and teens. Although pinworm is more common in school-age children, adults and teens are not immune. Any individual may come in contact with pinworm after drinking water or eating food contaminated with pinworm eggs. Pinworm eggs are ovoid on one side and approximately .55 mm x .25 mm in size. The eggs can last for twenty days in most moist environments and they can even survive in sewage. The adult pinworm develops in the body’s large intestine and lays its eggs in the anal region. The female pinworm can lay up to an incredible 15,000 eggs at one time.
Some individuals may have an infection and not know it, while others will experience mild to moderate symptoms. The most common symptom caused by pinworms is itching around the anus. The itching becomes more intense at night when the female pinworm lays her eggs on the skin of infected person. Because pinworms can be easily spotted, they are easy to diagnose. The adult pinworm is small, white, and threadlike. Because they are most active at night, this is the best time to look for them. Pinworms can also be seen on the outside of the infected person’s stool. Fortunately, there are several effective treatments for pinworms. According to MedicineHealth:
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“Albendazole (Albenza) is the most common treatment for pinworms. Treatment is a single tablet, which kills the worms. There are different strengths for adults and children younger than 2 years. To lessen the chance of reinfection, the infected person will have to take a second dose two weeks after treatment. Pinworm eggs can survive for a few weeks. Other treatments such as Mebendazole (Vermox) and pyrantel pamoate (Pin-Rid, Pin-X) also work. They are also taken in a single dose and repeated 2 weeks later.”
There are several things that must be done after treatment (and beyond) to prevent reinfection. The treated individual should:
- Avoid biting the fingernails.
- Clean and vacuum play areas. Continue this practice indefinitely.
- Get into the habit of thoroughly washing the hands after using the bathroom, before and after eating, and before preparing food.
- Launder all bedding every 3-7 days for 3 weeks.
- Make sure the child or infected person changes his/her underwear daily.
- Thoroughly wash all bedding, clothing, pajamas, and toys with hot water and soap to destroy any lingering eggs.
- Wash underwear and pajamas daily for 2 weeks.
If you have been treated for pinworms and you have carefully followed all of the steps listed above, but you still become reinfected, do not get discouraged. It is common to become reinfected several months or so after treatment. Simply call your doctor to get started on another round of treatment.
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Pinworms or “pin worms” belong to the family Oxyuridae, order Oxyuroidea, and the phylum Nematoda. The pinworm is classified as Enterobius vermicularis. Threadworms are also classified as Enterobius vermicularis. Pinworm is the most prevalent parasite infection in the United States and Europe. Pinworm does not discriminate. It can occur within all ethnic groups, all classes, and in urban or rural areas.