Pinworms: The Symptoms, Causes and Treatment Options
The most common type of roundworm infection is the pinworm infection. Roundworms are basically intestinal parasites that use your body as a host to stay alive and reproduce. The microscopic eggs of the pinworm hatch inside your bodies and grow into adults that measure 13 millimeters or about half an inch. These worms mature inside the intestine and travel through the digestive system to lay their eggs in the anal area.
How Do Pinworms Spread?
An person that is infected with parasites, in most cases a child; transfers pinworms when he/she has scratched his/her bare anal area and the eggs get under his/her fingernails. Apart from this, pinworms are also spread in the following ways:
- Eggs may be passed on from an infected child who has not washed his/her hands after using the bathroom and then touched a playmate or play toy.
- Pinworm eggs can also be transferred from the fingers onto beddings and clothing and thus spread around the house.
- These eggs can also be inhaled from the air and deposited onto food and swallowed.
- The pinworm eggs are able to spread for a longer time as they are able to survive up to two weeks on clothes, bedding and other objects that are kept at room temperature.
Pinworm infections can be spread as long as either eggs or worms are present.
The Signs & Symptoms of Pinworm Infection?
If the infection is mild, then there may not be any pinworm symptoms. Most of the symptoms of parasites that are noticeable in humans, will only take place in case of moderate or heavier infections.
Some of the signs and symptoms in case of heavier pinworm infections are:
- Loss of weight
- Difficulty sleeping
- A feeling of restlessness
- Itching that is concentrated around the anal area
- Gastrointestinal symptoms like intermittent abdominal pain and nausea
- Some girls may experience vaginal itching and irritation (vaginitus)
How is Pinworm Infection Diagnosed?
There are two methods used to diagnose pinworm infection. The first is the direct sighting of a Parasitic worm, where the adult worm is seen around the anus. The second method that is used is the tape test. This test involves the use of cellophane tape. In this procedure, a tape is pressed against the skin around the anus and then examined under a microscope. It is advisable to use this method of testing early in the morning before defecating or bathing, as the parasites typically lay eggs at night.
Pinworm Treatment Options
No treatment is usually required for mild pinworm infections. Of course, there are medicines that are almost always available for effectively eliminating the parasite. These medicines are usually prescribed for all the members of the family because children spread pinworms easily to other members. The doctor may also prescribe a soothing ointment or cream if the vaginal or anal itching is severe and interfering with your sleep.
The doctor might also remind you to keep your fingernails clean, avoid scratching the anal area and wash any potentially infected sheets and clothes.
Another common pinworm treatment method, is to do a parasite cleanse to help remove pinworm symptoms naturally.
What steps can I take to prevent pinworm infection?
To prevent pinworm infection you need to:
- Wash your hands and fingernails frequently.
- Encourage children to restrain from scratching their bare anal areas.
- Bathe daily.
- Change and wash clothes and bedding frequently.
- Since the pinworm eggs continue to be present in the faces of the infected person for up to a week after the treatment, precautions should be taken keeping this in mind.