What exactly is a pinworm? The information that I will present in this article may be surprising. It could explain symptoms that your child had in the past and you had no idea what was wrong with her. If you’re like me, you may have never heard of a pinworm. But, if you have young kids, this article will be important to you. I will warn you. This is not a pleasant topic.
What are Pinworms?
Pinworms are intestinal parasites. The females are about a half an inch long. The males, smaller than half an inch, are smaller than the females. The worms are white and thin. They are called pinworms because they are about the width of a straight pin. They can be seen only at night in the rectal area.
What Are Pinworm Symptoms?
One of the most common symptoms of pinworms is itching and burning in the genital area, particularly around the anus. The itching is caused by a gelatin-like substance that is left by the female as she lays eggs around the anal opening. This usually occurs about two hours after your child lays down to go to sleep. The itching is also caused by the movement of the female pinworm.
Another symptom of pinworms is stomach cramping. My daughter had complained of this. She had cramps in the lower abdominal area. She developed the burning and itching symptoms later in the night. Nighttime is when the pinworms are most active. That’s when the female goes to lay her eggs.
Pinworms can also be responsible for restless sleeping in children, bedwetting, and even diarrhea. My daughter also experienced the restless sleeping symptom. She kept complaining that her bottom was hurting and she couldn’t sleep. I, having no idea that she had an infestation of pinworms, would just give her a warm shower. The sad thing is when she kept getting up during the night, I thought she just didn’t want to go to sleep. It never occurred to me that she had pinworms until, during another incident, I actually saw one after further investigation.
It would be best to see your doctor to verify your child has a pinworm infestation. They use a special tape to collect a specimen. The tape is then viewed through a microscope to see if pinworms are present. Sometimes, as the case with my daughter, you can actual see the worms around the rectal opening. I would definitely see a doctor if you see other parasites besides pinworms on your child before or after treatment.
How Do You Treat Pinworms?
Pinworms can be treated at home with an over the counter medicine like Reese’s Pinworm Medicine or Pin-X. You should be able to get these from your local drug store. Your doctor may even give you a prescription. Since pinworms are highly contagious, it is recommended to treat the entire household, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
It is also recommended that after two weeks, everyone take another dosage to help stop another re-infestation.
I used an over the counter medicine to treat my daughter. It seemed to clear up the problem quickly and she had no other symptoms.
How Are Pinworms Spread?
As I said before, pinworms are highly contagious. They can be contracted by inhaling or ingesting the pinworm eggs. How does this occur you may wonder? Well, when most little kids have an itch, they scratch it. It doesn’t really matter where that itch is either. What happens at this point is the eggs get under your child’s finger nails and in the air. They touch other kids at school–you know how little girls love to hold hands. They touch their pencils and put them in their mouths. They put their fingers in their mouths. My daughter is still a thumb sucker. Her finger is in her mouth all the time.
The eggs are resilient and can survive on surfaces for several days. When your child sits on the toilet at school, for example, they can possibly contract pinworms. The same thing can happen in your home too.
Keeping Pinworms Away
Once it has been determined that your child does have pinworms wash everything. Wash her bed sheets, pillow coverings, clothes, and bedspread. Vacuum clean her bedroom floor everyday for at least three days. Let lots of natural light in the room since the pinworm eggs do not fair well in sunlight.
Clean the toilet along with the rest of the bathroom with a disinfectant. You should make it a practice to clean your toilet at least once a day.
Clean door knobs too. Pretty much disinfect any place your child has touched. It is very important to do this because a re-infestation can occur very easily with pinworms.
Have your child where under garments that fit snuggly. This can aid in preventing pinworms from spreading. Also, whenever possible, make sure your child washes her hands after using the potty. I provide antibacterial soap for my children to use. I keep some in each bathroom, so, there is no excuse for them not to have clean hands.
If your child is like mine and sucks her thumb, be proactive in breaking this habit. This is just another step to prevent the return of pinworms.
All is Well
Pinworms are right at the top of my totally gross list, but they are treatable. There are no long term effects from having pinworms either.
If you discover that your child has pinworms, don’t panic and don’t worry. The important thing is to get her treatment right away and make her as comfortable as possible.