What are pinworms? Symptoms and treatment

PINWORMS are the most common type of intestinal worm infection in the United States.

It is a microscopic, thin and white roundworm that lives in the colon and rectum.

What are pinworms?

Pinworm are a intestinal infection caused by tiny parasitic worms.

They infect the intestines, especially in kids.

Millions of people each year are affected by pinworms.

They spread when their eggs are swallowed. They lay eggs around the bottom and can attach to anything that comes into contact with the area like underwear and bed sheets.

Because pinworms make the anus itchy, eggs can be carried on young children's fingers.

The eggs can get stuck under fingernails or are transferred to toys, pets, surfaces and clothes which spreads them around the family.

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What are the symptoms of pinworms?

A common sign of pinworms include extreme itching, particularly at night, around the anus.

This can cause irritability and waking up during the night.

A rash or other skin irritation around the anus can be an indication a child has been experiencing pain or irritation around the area.

Other symptoms can include weight loss, wetting the bed and irritated skin around the anus.

Pinworm infections are most likely to occur in children ages 5 to 10.

People who live in crowded spaces are at higher risk of developing pinworm infections.

Although the microscopic eggs are easily spread to family members, caregivers, or other children at school or child care cente, if a child has pinworms, there's no need to stay off nursery, school or work.

How do you get rid of pinworms?

In many cases, you can get rid of pinworms without having to see a doctor.

Over the counter medicine is available from pharmacies.

Everyone in the household needs to be treated, even if they don't have symptoms.

If you need to treat a child under 2 years old, or if you're pregnant or breastfeeding, it is best to let the pharmacist know.

Medicine will kill the threadworms but it will not kill the eggs which can live for around 2 weeks outside the body.

To stop getting infected again, you can pay special attention to personal hygiene.

Taking measures like regularly washing hands and scrubbing fingernails – especially before eating, showering each morning, washing sleepwear, disinfecting kitchen and bathroom surfaces can prevent pinworms returning.

It is also worth making sure children wear clean underwear at night which can be changed in the morning.

It is best not to share towels or flannels, and avoid biting finger nails.

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