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Here’s a little bit of trivia for you:
You can exercise daily, check up on your mental health regularly and count your carbs, fats, and proteins down to the exact milligram – and still become sick with a minor or even life-threatening illness, when you least expect it. Our unforgiving world gives every creature about an equal chance for survival, and this includes the kinds of creatures that we wish would never exist.
Fortunately, human beings, the single most dominant species on our planet, have evolved to develop rational thinking, so we’re slightly better prepared to handle these unexpected problems, by absorbing as much information as possible and by applying our knowledge into practice.
So, hopefully, after reading this, you will know everything you need to know about one very important and very unpleasant parasite:
Don’t know what pinworms are? Don’t sweat it. Many people don’t and those that claim to know have a rudimentary understanding of the parasitic worm. Even with all our scientific advances, cures, and medications, these creepy crawlers are extremely common. They have been running amok for as long as humans have been around. Fortunately, they are treatable, so don’t fret!
Glad you asked! Without further ado, here is everything you need to know about pinworms.
Simply put, pinworms are white parasitic worms that live in the large intestine of human beings. They are about one-half inch to a full inch in size and while the infected person sleeps, female pinworms leave the intestinal tract and lay their eggs on the skin around the anus. The eggs are laid in a sticky, jelly-like substance that, along with the wriggling of the female pinworm, causes severe itching.
Super-gross and maybe even too much information, but it’s important to know because this is the most common worm infection in the United States. Young children have the highest infection rate due to below-average sanitary conditions in schools, daycare centers, and recreational facilities. Even though these grimy facilities play a major factor, let’s face it, children tend to care less about cleanliness than adults. Kids like to play first and think later, paying no attention to such things as pinworms which is why we must protect them.
The easiest way for your child to spread pinworms is if they have scratched his or her bare anal area and the eggs get under his or her fingernails without proper hand washing. They can also be transferred from the fingers to clothing or bedding, and then spread around the home, and believe it or not, the eggs may be inhaled from the air or deposited onto food and swallowed. It’s important to note that even if your child may have seemingly healed, pinworms can survive up to two weeks on clothing, bedding, or other objects if kept at room temperature. So even though your child may be in the clear, make sure to do a deep clean of your home to ensure that you have completely eradicated the parasite.
The most common symptoms of pinworms are extreme itching in the anal/vaginal area, difficulty sleeping, and irritability but other symptoms that are important to be aware of are nervousness, restlessness, loss of appetite, insomnia, poor concentration, weight loss, sweet cravings, teeth grinding, mood swings, bed wetting, and fatigue. These additional symptoms may be due to other illnesses – so the next step to take is searching for the female worm or egg which will confirm if your child has pinworms or not.
Pinworms can be sneaky and usually only reveal themselves in the evening. The adult worms can sometimes be seen directly around the anal area or in pajamas. If the worms are not visible, you may try conducting something known as a “tape test” in the morning. You do this by applying a piece of transparent tape against the folds of skin around the anus to pick up any eggs or worms and then seal it in a plastic bag. After this, take the tape to a medical professional, where the eggs can be identified under a microscope, for an official diagnosis. We may be biased, but we strongly believe that Chai Care is one of the best places to visit for expert medical help. Please consider visiting one of our urgent care centers if your child experiences the symptoms of pinworm infection!
Let’s paint a picture. Your child hasn’t been acting like themselves lately. They are restless, losing weight, have severe mood swings, and have been complaining about a never-ending itch located in their anus. You take a look and notice a half-inch-long white worm. Now what?
There are both over-the-counter and prescription drugs one can take but consult with a healthcare provider before doing so. Once you received a legitimate diagnosis, next comes treating the infected.
The infected person should take the prescribed medicine orally. The medicine is given in two doses. The second dose should be given two weeks after the first. It’s crucial for the person to bathe first thing in the morning to reduce egg contamination and prevent it from spreading. Essentially, it’s best to be as clean as possible. Make sure your child washes their hands and under the fingernails thoroughly. Whether this is after using the bathroom, before eating, or after any activity, it’s paramount that they scrub their hands with warm water and soap. During this time, avoid nail biting and scratching bare anal areas to avoid re-infection. Most people don’t know this, but parasites live off bacteria/sugar. So, during this time, it is best to cut down on your child’s sugar intake. Lastly, it is important to know that when one person in a household contracts pinworms, usually another family member does too so make sure to treat all infected family members at the same time.
Now that your child is treated, it’s time to treat your home. Make sure to change all the sheets, pillowcases, and bedspreads, and thoroughly wash them with hot water along with all the underwear, pants, shorts, and clothing to ensure maximum cleanliness. During the daytime keep all blinds open because the eggs are ultra-sensitive to sunlight. Pinworm eggs are light and scatter easily so dust should be removed carefully from all surfaces in the home. Be extra careful when vacuuming or use an oiled cloth (which may be boiled or destroyed later) to help prevent the eggs from scattering.
You did it! Now that your child is finally pinworm-free, how do you prevent this from ever happening again?
It’s simple. Make sure they wash their hands and underneath the fingernails frequently, bathe daily, encourage them to avoid scratching their bare anal areas, and change and wash clothing and bedding frequently. It’s important to note that pinworm eggs continue to be present (excreted) in the feces of an infected person for up to a week after the treatment, so precautions should be taken to prevent reinfection by washing hands thoroughly, especially under the nails.
If your child follows these simple steps, they will be in the clear, but kids sometimes have a difficult time following the rules. If your child winds up contracting the infection again, consult your healthcare provider and follow the same steps. In some cases, it may be necessary to treat the patient and close family contacts more than once for extra protection.
If your little one gets infected with pinworms, there’s no sugarcoating this: The experience will not be pleasant for them or for you as a parent. Fortunately, there are diagnostic tools and great medications readily available, and thankfully there are urgent care facilities that can offer them exceptional treatment and make sure they are as good as new in no time. If you feel that your child may have contracted pinworms, bring them down to Chai Care and we will get them treated and healthy in no time!
* Legal disclaimer: The content of this article and the entire Chai Care blog is for educational purposes only; it does NOT constitute medical advice and must not be considered as such. Please consult a medical professional regarding any symptoms or health concerns you or your loved ones.