extreme itching around the anus or vagina, particularly at night
irritability and waking up during the night
Less common signs of worms include:
wetting the bed
irritated skin around the anus
A pharmacist can help with threadworms
You can buy medicine (mebendazole) for threadworms from pharmacies. This is usually a chewable tablet or liquid you swallow.
Treat everyone in your household, even if they do not have symptoms.
Tell the pharmacist if you need to treat a child under 2, or if you're pregnant or breastfeeding. Treatment might not be suitable and you may need to speak to a GP.
Things you should do at home
Medicine kills the threadworms, but it does not kill the eggs. Eggs can live for up to 2 weeks outside the body.
There are things you can do to stop becoming infected again.
wash hands and scrub under fingernails – particularly before eating, after using the toilet or changing nappies
encourage children to wash hands regularly
bathe or shower every morning
rinse toothbrushes before using them
keep fingernails short
wash sleepwear, sheets, towels and soft toys (at a hot temperature)
disinfect kitchen and bathroom surfaces
vacuum and dust with a damp cloth
make sure children wear underwear at night – change it in the morning
do not shake clothing or bedding, to prevent eggs landing on other surfaces
do not share towels or flannels
do not bite nails or suck thumbs and fingers
Nursery, school and work
If you or your child has threadworms there's no need to stay off nursery, school or work.
How threadworms spread
Threadworms spread when their eggs are swallowed. They lay eggs around your bottom (anus), which make it itchy. The eggs get stuck on your fingers when you scratch. They can then pass on to anything you touch, including:
kitchen or bathroom surfaces
Eggs can pass to other people when they touch these surfaces and then touch their mouth. They take around 2 weeks to hatch.
Children can get threadworms again after they've been treated for them if they get the eggs in their mouth. This is why it's important to encourage children to wash their hands regularly.
Page last reviewed: 26 January 2021 Next review due: 26 January 2024
Pinworm is an intestinal infection caused by tiny parasitic worms. It's a common infection that affects millions of people each year, particularly school-age kids.
If your child develops a pinworm infection, try not to worry. Pinworms don't cause any harm (just itching and restless sleep), and it won't take long to get rid of them.
How Do Pinworm Infections Spread?
Pinworm infections (also known as "seatworm infection" or "threadworm infection") are contagious.
Pinworms get into the body when people ingest or breathe in the microscopic pinworm eggs. These eggs can be found on contaminated hands and surfaces, such as:
clothing (especially underwear and pajamas)
desks or lunch tables at school
The eggs pass into the digestive system and hatch in the small intestine. From the small intestine, pinworm larvae go to the large intestine, where they live as parasites (with their heads attached to the inside wall of the bowel).
About 1 to 2 months later, adult female pinworms leave the large intestine through the anus (the opening where bowel movements come out). They lay eggs on the skin right around the anus, which triggers itching in that area. Often, this happens at night.
When someone scratches the itchy area, microscopic pinworm eggs transfer to their fingers. Contaminated fingers can then carry pinworm eggs to the mouth, where they go back into the body, or stay on various surfaces, where they can live for 2 to 3 weeks.
If you're wondering if your family pet could give your child a pinworm infection, it can't. Pinworms don't come from animals.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Pinworm Infection?
The most common signs of a pinworm infection are itching around the anus and restless sleep. The itching is usually worse at night because the worms move to the area around the anus to lay their eggs. In girls, pinworm infection can spread to the vagina and cause a vaginal discharge. If the itching breaks the skin, it also could lead to a bacterial skin infection.
If your child has a pinworm infection, you can see worms in the anal region, especially if you look about 2 or 3 hours after your child has fallen asleep. You also might see the worms in the toilet after your child goes to the bathroom. They look like tiny pieces of white thread and are really small — about as long as a staple. You might also see them on your child's underwear in the morning.
Belly pain and nausea are less common symptoms but can happen if there are many pinworms in the intestines.
How Are Pinworm Infections Diagnosed?
Your doctor may ask you to help make the diagnosis of pinworm by placing a sticky piece of clear cellophane tape against the skin around your child's anus. Pinworm eggs will stick to the tape and can be seen under a microscope. The best time to do this is at night or in the morning before a bath (when there's the most pinworm activity around the anus). The doctor also might take some samples from under a child's fingernails to look for eggs.
How Are Pinworm Infections Treated?
If your child has a pinworm infection, the doctor will recommend an over-the-counter or prescription antiworm medicine. This is given in one dose and repeated in 2 weeks. The doctor may decide to treat the entire family, especially if your child has had a pinworm infection before.
Although medicine takes care of the worm infection, the itching may continue for about a week. So the doctor also might give your child a cream or other medicine to help stop the itching.
Regular hand washing and routine household cleaning (including frequent changing of underwear, and washing everyone's pajamas, towels, and bed linens) also will help prevent the spread of a pinworm infection within the family.
Can Pinworm Infections Be Prevented?
Here are a few ways to prevent pinworm infections in your family:
Remind kids to wash their hands often, especially after using the toilet, after playing outside, and before eating.
Make sure your kids shower or bathe every day and change underwear and swimsuits daily.
Keep kids' fingernails short and clean.
Tell kids not to scratch around their bottom or bite their nails.
Wash your kids' pajamas every few days.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
Call the doctor if your child complains of itchy skin or always seems to be scratching the anal or vaginal area.
Also ask about whether pinworms could be to blame if your child has trouble sleeping or has begun to wet the bed. (Pinworms can irritate the urethra — the channel through which pee leaves the bladder and exits the body — and lead to bedwetting.)
Remember that pinworms are quite common among kids and aren't harmful. By taking medicine and following some prevention tips, you'll be rid of the worms in no time.
Worms in children. Find and neutralize
How to identify worms in a child?
There are many types of parasites that enter and live in the human body. In children, roundworms are most common, causing ascariasis (intestinal and pulmonary manifestations), and pinworms, causing enterobiasis (intestinal and immune manifestations). The main type of diagnosis is visual, that is, the detection of worms in the stool. An additional and reliable type of diagnosis is a blood test for the intensity of immunity to parasites.
How can a child get worms?
Infection can occur in utero, as well as through pets; through poor-quality food (meat, fish, milk, vegetables, etc.). The cause of infection may be a violation of personal and household hygiene.
What are the symptoms of helminthic invasion, signs of worms in children?
The following symptoms may indicate the presence of infection: lack of body weight, anal itching, bruxism (grinding of teeth during sleep), early caries, nighttime salivation (wet spots on the pillow), nausea in the morning, unmotivated pain in the umbilical region; constipation or "sheep stool", loss of appetite, long-lasting rashes on the forearms and thighs (so-called "chicks"), "bruises" under the eyes and pallor of the skin. If a child has more than 5 of the symptoms listed, there is every reason to assume a helminthic invasion.
Why is the presence of worms dangerous?
Worms are a powerful multicellular infectious agent. Unlike bacteria and viruses, a parasite is an organism or a group of organisms, they need the human body as a "home", and they will "settle down" in it.
What tests should be done to determine the presence of worms?
The presence of helminthic infestation can be determined by analysis of feces for visualization and microscopy, as well as by blood tests for immunity to parasites.
A stool test is needed to find out which worms your child has. However, it is likely that the result of the study will be negative - in this case, experts recommend resorting to a blood test for immunity to worms. This enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay detects 15 varieties of parasites and is done in one day.
How to deal with worms?
If the analysis confirmed helminthic infestation, it is necessary to start treatment, first of all, with putting things in order and cleanliness in the house - isolate the hallway and places where street shoes are from the child; often wash and iron bed and underwear on both sides.
Medical treatment of worm infestation must be recommended by a doctor.
One of the most effective means of combating worms are hygienic methods: changing all the bed linen in the apartment, wet cleaning of the premises. Fingernails should be carefully trimmed to the root. All family members should change their underwear daily (or even several times a day), sleep in tight-fitting underwear, and shower after sleep. The life span of helminths is 28 days, and if “self-infection” is avoided, the problem is solved in a month. No one is immune from this disease. Worms can affect both the children's organism and the adult, because these parasites absolutely do not care in which organism they live and develop. Yes, and you can get infected with them, not only from "dirty" hands. Statistics indicate that 1-1.4 billion people all over the planet fall ill every year, and this does not take into account those patients who did not go to the doctor because they simply do not know about the infection. And there are even more such people than those already registered. And all because very often the disease goes away without any symptoms.
Can children be treated for worms with folk remedies?
Often pumpkin seeds are used to treat worms in folk medicine, but it is quite difficult for a child to eat enough seeds with skins (about 100 grams of unpeeled seeds per 10 kg of weight per day, for several weeks). Therefore, this method is not recommended for children.
Freshly squeezed carrot juice is also considered a good anthelmintic, which can also be used as a prophylaxis for helminths (worms). To do this, you can give your child 50 - 100 grams of freshly squeezed carrot juice daily.
Is it possible to get worms from other children?
If the child is healthy, then the likelihood that he will become infected with worms is very small. In a healthy body there are no conditions for the development of helminths. The soil for helminthic diseases is malnutrition, an extreme lack of proteins and vitamins in food. In reality, eggs of various parasites almost constantly enter the human gastrointestinal tract, but infection and the development of the disease do not occur. There are classic recommendations to prevent infection of preschool children with worms 2 times a year, but since anthelmintics are highly toxic, and eggs exist everywhere in nature (that is, they can be picked up anywhere), these recommendations are quite controversial. To prevent helminthic diseases, it is enough to eat well, wash your hands thoroughly before eating, regularly carry out wet cleaning and monitor the cleanliness of underwear and bed linen.
Can a child get worms from pets?
If a dog or cat walks down the street and then walks around the house with unwashed paws, then it can bring into the house those eggs of human parasites that are in the street dirt. Those worms that dogs and cats themselves are sick with are not transmitted to humans, but cats and dogs can be a source of other, non-helminthic, parasitic diseases, for example, toxoplasmosis can be infected from a cat. If there are pets in the house, it is necessary to regularly carry out wet cleaning in the house.
Doctor Konon Tatiana
Worms (helminthiasis): Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment
Worms are worms that lead a parasitic lifestyle in the body of their host - a person. Age doesn't matter. Both adults and children are equally susceptible to infection. The classification of helminthiases is very extensive, especially in countries with a hot climate.
The most common worms in children are pinworms causing enterobiasis . These are helminths of small size, on average up to 1 cm, white-gray in color with a curved body. The place of localization of these parasites is the large intestine, but they can also penetrate into the lower sections of the small intestine. Reproduction of pinworms occurs on the skin near the anus. At night, female pinworms get out to debug eggs in the folds of the skin, often penetrating the labia in girls, which ends with infectious diseases of the genitals. In total, these helminths live for about 1-1.5 months. The process of self-infection in a child can lead to the fact that the malaise will continue for many years. Parasites can be detected with the naked eye in the stool.
Another type of worm most commonly found in children is Ascaris . Characteristic species, reaching a length of 15 cm, these nematodes settle in the lumen of the loops of the small intestine, advancing towards the moving food bolus. In the feces, roundworms are very rare. Females periodically release eggs, which can be found in the analysis of feces. But if they were not found during the study, this does not mean that the child is not infected. The life cycle of roundworm can last several years.
The baby's curiosity is realized by his fingers, the child, learning the world, actively touches everything that comes to his hand and immediately puts it in his mouth, testing for strength and taste. Thus, pinworm eggs safely enter the digestive tract of their future little host.
A child becomes infected with helminth eggs from the surface of unwashed fruits when drinking contaminated water. Very often, infection occurs when communicating with animals, or when playing in the ground, a sandbox, where cats and dogs like to solve their physiological problems. After a walk, children often do not wash their hands, and all the dirt, along with parasitic eggs, gets into their mouths.
Symptoms of worms
How can you tell if a child has worms? If the child was infected with a large number of eggs of parasitic worms, then after a few days a sharp deterioration in the condition may occur. In milder cases, the first symptoms of invasion appear after a few weeks or even months. Much depends on immunity. It can quite cope with parasites and restrain their development. But gradually the defenses are reduced, and the helminths infect the body, causing serious problems.
The first signs of worms are symptoms of poisoning (intoxication). The vital activity of worms is accompanied by the release of a large number of animal toxins that can poison the child's body. In the intestines, parasitic worms use nutrients, as a result of which the baby gradually becomes deficient in proteins, carbohydrates, fats and vitamins.
The child develops:
weakness, frequent dizziness,
rise in body temperature, headache,
Manifested intestinal ailments - constipation, loose stools, rumbling and pain in the abdomen, bouts of nausea and vomiting, pain in different parts of the abdomen, bloating. The disease may be accompanied by allergic conditions: itching, rashes, cough, inflammation of the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract. Weakened immunity leads to the addition of infectious diseases.
Diagnosis and treatment of helminthiasis
Diagnosis of helminthiasis by feces is quite difficult. This is due to the fact that ascaris or pinworm eggs do not appear in the feces every day, and the technique of microscopy of smears from the analysis requires great care. To increase reliability, it is desirable to take a stool test for worm eggs for at least 3 days in a row.
In cases of increased risk of infection with worms (contact with animals, the child's play on the ground or in open sandboxes, the child's habit of taking things in his mouth, biting his nails or licking his fingers, etc.), it is advisable to undergo an in-depth examination, which includes, in addition to a threefold analysis of feces special blood tests that detect antibodies to helminths.
In the presence of allergic manifestations of unknown origin, an increase in the number of eosinophils in the blood test, persistent intestinal dysbacteriosis, it is advisable to donate blood for the determination of class E immunoglobulins (Ig E and G) to ascaris and other helminths. You can check for worms in pets.