Yes, yuck! But worms – especially pinworms – are really common, especially in young children. So here’s what you need to know about getting rid of them.

Threadworms, known as pinworms, are white and look like small pieces of cotton thread. While they don’t always cause symptoms, pinworms can cause itchiness around the anus, and the itching is often worse at night. If you know what to look for, you may be able to spot pinworms on your little one’s bottom or stools.

How Do People Get Worms?

Pinworms lay their eggs around an infected person’s anus, usually at night. While laying eggs, the worm secretes a mucus that causes itching – this is to make sure that its host scratches! When the area is scratched, the eggs get stuck on fingertips and that’s how they get transported onto surfaces and clothing; sneaky, right? The eggs can survive for 3 weeks before hatching; either on their original host, or inside the intestines of a new one. It sounds creepy, but the good news is: this is easy to fix.

De-Worming Treatment

If anyone in the household has threadworms, then everyone in the family needs to be treated, whether they have symptoms or not. You can get the correct medicine to get rid of pinworms from your pharmacy without a prescription, and it usually means just one single dose per person. As with any medication, make sure you read the instructions for each age-group, and stick to them. Check whether everyone needs a follow-up dose after 2 weeks.

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When To See The Doctor

  • If you think you have threadworms and you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • If you think your child has threadworms and he/she is under 2 years of age. This is important because babies and toddlers need different treatment to what is used for older children or adults.

How Can I Prevent Worms?

It’s not really always possible to prevent a threadworm infection, but you can reduce the risk by following these guideline:

  • Keep kitchen and bathroom surfaces clean
  • Everyone, including the children, should wash their hands regularly – especially after using the toilet, after touching pets and before eating.
  • Keep fingernails short as it’s easier for eggs to stay hidden under long fingernails. Short nails will also make it easier to wash off the eggs.
  • Personal hygiene is one of the most important ways of preventing intestinal worms, but there are other precautions you can take.
  • Wash vegetables and fruit before eating, and cook foods like meat, chicken or fish well to remove any or all parasites.
  • Always de-worm your pets from these parasites.
  • Pay attention to little ones who are scratching or say that they have itchy bottoms – there’s a reason

It doesn’t hurt to de-worm yourself and your children once a year. Talk to your pharmacy about the correct medication and stick to the instruction. No more worms!