A reader recently informed us that she found a worm in her sink after blowing her nose, and has become paranoid as to whether it came from her or not. She describes the worm as being a wriggling, tiny thread; it was more than 0.5cm (0.2-inches) long and about 0.1cm (0.04-inches) wide.
Furthermore, our reader says that she has flowers on her balcony, but that they are far from her bathroom, thus insinuating that this may have been the origin of the worm. In her paranoid state, our reader crushed the worm with scissors and washed it down the drain. Because of this, our reader was unfortunately unable to send us any visual information that we could use to identify the creature. However, if we were to make an educated guess based on the information we have been given, we would say that this is enterobius vermicularis, otherwise known as pinworms. Of course, this is assuming that the worm really did come from her nose.
Before we provide any information on pinworms and the health issues they pose, it is important to note that we cannot provide any medical advice as we are not medical professionals. For this reason, if our reader has reasonable cause to believe that they are infested with pinworms, we encourage her to seek a medical professional and/or a parasite specialist in order to receive an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.
Pinworms are parasitic intestinal nematodes. This means, firstly, that this creature engages in a parasitic relationship with its prey, where the creature burrows into a host to feed off its nutrients. Pinworms often prey upon children, and normally can be found in or around the anus, thus coming out in faecal matter. However, it is not unheard of that pinworms come out of people’s noses, eyes, ears, or reproductive organs. Secondly, this means that this parasite feeds off the nutrients and food in the intestines. Thirdly, the word nematode refers to an unsegmented worm with a long, round body. Nematodes are often referred to as roundworms. Additionally, pinworms are usually 0.4-1.0cm (0.16-0.4-inches) in length and are an off-white color (see the image below from the web). Pinworms are also commonly referred to as threadworms, hence matching our reader’s description of them appearing thread-like.
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What is interesting about this case is that, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “extraintestinal presentation” is rare. This means that finding them anywhere other than the intestines or anus is not common. This puts into question whether or not these creatures really are pinworms, or perhaps some other parasite. In addition to the lack of a photograph, our reader did not list any symptoms that may have been experienced in conjunction with the discovery of the worm.
Furthermore, if our reader has cause to believe that the worm came from her flowers on her balcony, we recommend analyzing the soil of the flowers, as well as the flowers themselves to search for worms. However, we must advise extreme caution. Although parasites do not commonly come from plants, if this is the case, our reader will want to ensure that she does not get (further) infested with any more parasites, if indeed that is what she is dealing with – again, we cannot say as we are not medical professionals. We recommend wearing protective gear, like gardening gloves, when checking the flowers.
In conclusion, it is unclear what worm our reader found in her sink after blowing her nose. Given the lack of visual information and details of symptoms, we cannot affirm whether the worm was a parasite or not. In the case that it was, our best possible guess would be that it was a pinworm/threadworm. As previously stated, we recommend that our reader seeks help from medical professionals, and we wish her the best of luck with this issue.