Recognize and Prevent a Pinworm Infection
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- Know who is at risk of the infection.
- School- and preschool-aged children
- People who are institutionalized.
- Family/household members and caregivers of people with a pinworm infection.
- Be alert for signs of irritation in the rectal area. Often, someone can have a pinworm infection without having any symptoms. When symptoms are present, the most common one is itching around the rectum and restless sleep. The itching is usually worse at night and is caused by worms migrating to the area around the rectum to lay their eggs. In girls, pinworm infection can spread to the vagina and cause a vaginal discharge.
- Take note of a sudden onset of difficulty sleeping or nighttime restlessness.
- Look for actual signs of the worm. You can actually see worms in the anal (rectal) area, especially if you look about 2 or 3 hours after your child has fallen asleep. You might also see the worms in the toilet after he or she goes to the bathroom. They look like tiny pieces of white thread and are very small, about this long ___,and may also be found on underwear in the morning.
- Take up a collection. If you suspect a pinworm infestation, your doctor may ask you to help make the diagnosis of pinworm by placing a sticky piece of clear cellophane tape against your child's rectum. Pinworm eggs will stick to the tape and can be seen under a microscope in a laboratory. The doctor might also take some samples from under a child's fingernails to look for eggs.
- Prevent the infection. Pinworm infection is spread by the transfer of pinworm eggs from the anus to someone’s mouth. This typically happens either directly by hand or indirectly through contaminated articles. The following steps will help reduce the spread of the infection and lower the risk of re-infection:
- The best way to protect yourself and your family from a pinworm or any other parasitic, baterial, or viral infection is to practice and teach proper handwashing techniques!! Make sure you and your family wash hands before eating or handling food, after using the bathroom, and after changing a diaper.
- Keep fingernails clean and trimmed short.
- Avoid biting your fingernails.
- Avoid scratching the skin around the anus area.
- Every family member should bathe every morning and change underclothing daily (showering may be preferred to avoid contaminated bath water).
- Handle the bedding, clothing, and towels of an infected person carefully. Avoid shaking the articles and wash infected articles in hot water.
- In daycare centers and schools with a widespread infection, all those infected should be treated at the same time. Treatment should be repeated in two weeks time.
- Reinfection occurs easily. All household/family members should receive treatment if one or more members has been diagnosed with the infection.
- Common places for the transmission of pinworm eggs are:
- bed linens, towels, underwear, and pajamas
- toilets and bathroom fixtures
- food, drinking glasses, eating utensils, and kitchen counters
- toys and sandboxes
- desks and lunch tables at school
- Treatment involves two doses of either prescription or over-the-counter medications with the second dose being given 2 weeks after the first dose.
- Always speak to your health care provider before treating a case of suspected pinworm infection.
- If there are multiple re-infections after treatment, steps should be taken to locate the source of the infection. A child's playmates, schoolmates, or household members and caretakers should be considered as possible sources.
- Pinworm eggs are rarely found in stool or urine samples.
- Pinworm infection often appears in more than one person in a household and in institutional settings.
- Childcare centers frequently experience cases of multiple pinworm infections.
Related Tips and Steps
- How to Wash Your Hands
- How to Change a Diaper
- How to Give Yourself a Manicure
- How to Avoid Common Hygiene Mistakes
- How to Recognize Dwarf Tapeworm Infection
- How to Prevent Ringworm Infection
- How to Prevent Cysticercosis (Pork Tapeworm Infection)
Sources and Citations