Childr Health Information

Treating pinworm infestation

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Topic: Diseases & Conditions

his handout was written to answer some of the questions most often asked about pinworms and how to treat them. Feel free to ask your doctor or nurse to explain any information you do not understand.

Pinworms are tiny parasites that live in the lower intestines. They are usually harmless and produce no symptoms except for severe anal itch (around the buttocks). This disease is extremely common, affecting people of all social and economic levels. An estimated 10 percent of the general American population have pinworms. Having pinworms is nothing to be ashamed of, but it should be treated because it can easily spread to family members and friends. Having pinworms does not mean that you have a dirty home. Family members can pick them up in many places outside the home. These worms are found mostly in young children because they are not as careful about personal hygiene as adults. However, pinworm eggs are so small they cannot be seen by the naked eye and are so easily spread that all family members usually get them. Once worms eggs are swallowed, they develop into adult worms in the intestinal tract. The female worm then lays thousands of very tiny eggs around the anus of the infected person. This almost always takes place at night. The resultant itching causes the person to scratch and get new eggs on his hands and under his fingernails. This can result in eggs being left on any object they touch. The infested person is also likely to re-infest himself by putting his hands in his mouth. The eggs are deposited in bed linens and household objects. Thus, pinworms are spread by people touching contaminated objects.

The symptoms of pinworm infestation are rarely serious and consist of intense anal itching. At night while your child is sleeping, you may actually see the white thread-like adult worms around the rectal area. If you see or suspect pinworms in your children, you should seek medical advice (when your child’s doctor’s office is open).

1. The pinworms look like tiny white threads.
2. Spread the child’s buttocks and check with a flashlight during the night. Do this for three nights in a row.
3. Use a piece of regular clear tape to pick up the worm and return it in a closed specimen cup or sealed plastic bag for examination if directed to do so.

Treat with either prescription or over-the-counter drugs. You should consult your health care provider before treating a suspected case of pinworm. Treatment involves a two-dose course. The second dose should be given 2-weeks after the first dose. To decrease the chance of the child and family members getting re-infected, these measures can be taken.
1. Teach the child to wash hands with soap and water after each trip to the bathroom and before meals.
2. Keep fingers away from the mouth.
3. Trim the affected child’s fingernails and keep nails short.
4. Use closed sleeping garments to prevent scratching of anus and reinfesting self with fingernails.
5. Wash bedclothes and sheets.


Derechos de autor(c) de The Children's Medical Center, ano 1999. Este material unicamente tiene fines educativos. No puede ser reproducido, distribuido ni modificado sin previa autorizacion de The Children's Medical Center of Dayton, One Children's Plaza, Dayton, Ohio, 45404-1815. Llame al 937-641-3666 para solicitar autorizacion o para obtener un juego maestro para copias. Para obtener mas informacion puede visitar (consulte la seccion de informacion legal).

La informacion contenida en este material es unicamente informacion de tipo general. No debe considerarse como completa. Para obtener mas informacion acerca de los complementos para leche materna, por favor pidala a su doctor.
Corregido: 1994, 1998, 2003

The information contained in this handout is for general information only and should not be considered complete. For specific information about bathing your baby, please ask your doctor or nurse practitioner.

Additional information may be located in the Family Resource Center, 2nd floor, near the Outpatient Surgery Center. Hours of the center vary; please contact the Family Resource Center at 937-641-3700.

Copyright(c) The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. This material is for educational purposes only. It cannot be reproduced or distributed without permission from Dayton Children's.
Revised: 1994, 1998, 2003


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