If your child complains about an itchy butt or if you see your child constantly scratching at their bottom, then your child most likely has a pinworm infection.
Pinworms are the most common human worm infection in America. Pinworms can infect people of all ages, but the most common age group to be infected are school-aged children.
Pinworms resemble small white pieces of thread or dental floss about ¼ inch long. Pinworms can be seen in the poop, on the underwear, or even sometimes around the bottom opening or anus.
Symptoms of Pinworm Infection
- The most common symptom is intense bottom itching.
- A large infection with pinworms can cause abdominal pain.
- Pinworm infection causing irritation to the vaginal area can cause vaginal discharge in girls.
- Pinworm infection causing irritation to the urinary channel can lead to bed wetting.
How Did My Child Get Pinworm?
Pinworms are contagious. Your child became infected with pinworm when your child swallowed the pinworm egg. The egg is microscopic and can live on surfaces for up to three weeks. The eggs can be found on contaminated hands, under the fingernails, and on surfaces. Common places to find the microscopic pinworm eggs include:
- bed linens
- drinking glasses
- eating utensils
- kitchen counters
- desk or lunch surfaces at school
Once your child swallows the pinworm eggs, they travel through the digestive system and hatch in the small intestine. The baby pinworms then travel to the large intestine and live there attached to the lining of the large intestine. After 1–2 months, the pinworm will travel to the bottom or anus and lay new eggs. This causes intense itching. Your child then scratches their bottoms and carries the pinworm eggs on their fingers and contaminates other people or surfaces. The cycle then starts all over again and the pinworm lives on!
How Is It Diagnosed?
- Tape test: A piece of adhesive tape is placed across the bottom opening before your child goes to bed. The eggs stick to the tape. In the morning the tape is peeled off and examined for eggs under the microscope.
- Samples from under the fingernails can be examined microscopically to identify the eggs.
What about Treatment and Prevention?
Speak to your child’s physician about prescribing de-worming medication. Two doses of medication given two weeks apart is usually all it takes to treat your child. All household contacts should also be treated. Animals do not carry pinworm, so pets do not need to be treated.
Here are some simple prevention tips:
- Have your child wash their hands before eating and after using the bathroom.
- Cut your child’s fingernails frequently and scrub under their nails.
- Clean all undergarments, towels, and bed linens in hot water frequently.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces such as counter tops, toys, and toilets.
- Rinse your child’s toothbrush with hot water.
Luckily, a pinworm infection in not hard to get rid of. If you are concerned that your child might be infected with pinworms, then speak to your child’s physician.
Remember, good hand washing is the biggest key to preventing the spread on infection.