Pinworms (Pinworm Infection in Children and Adults, Enterobiasis)
Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
- Pinworms facts
- Can humans get pinworms?
- What are the symptoms of pinworms in children and adults?
- Who gets pinworms?
- How do you get pinworms?
- Can you get pinworms in the vagina?
- What do pinworms and their eggs look like (pinworm pictures)?
- Which specialties of doctors treat pinworms?
- How is the tape test used in diagnosing pinworms?
- Are there natural or home remedies that treat pinworms?
- What medicine treats pinworms?
- What are the consequences if pinworms aren't treated?
- Can pinworms be prevented?
- Pinworms (Enterobiasis) Infection
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- Pinworm infections are caused by worm-like parasites that infect humans' intestines and rectal/anal areas.
- Young children and their household members, including adults, are at risk for pinworm infections.
- Pinworms are visible. They range in size from 2-13 mm, are white, and resemble a worm but the pinworm eggs are small, transparent and can be seen only with a microscope.
- Pinworm infections are spread person-to-person by ingesting pinworm eggs that have contaminated fingers, bedding, clothing or other items.
- The major signs and symptoms of pinworm infection are discomfort and itching in the anal/rectal area. Children especially will scratch the rectal/anal area, get eggs on their fingers or underneath their fingernails and transport the infective eggs to bedding, toys, other humans, or back to themselves.
- Other signs and symptoms may include:
- Discomfort in the anal and/or vaginal area
- Rash or skin irritation around the anus or vagina
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping and/or restlessness due to irritation of skin
- Pinworms can often be seen on the anal skin or in the stools, sometimes detected in the vagina and may produce some vaginal discharge
- Some infected individuals may have abdominal pain.
- Some infected individuals can get secondary bacterial infections from intense skin scratching.
- Infrequent infection of the ureters and/or bladder may cause dysuria or bladder discomfort.
- Pinworm eggs hatch into larval forms in the small intestine, and then progress to the large intestine where they mature, mate, and progress to the rectal/anal area where females deposit about 10 to 15 thousand eggs.
- Diagnosis may be done by a "tape test" and/or by visualizing pinworms in the stools or on the skin near the anus or in the vagina.
- Most primary care or pediatric doctors can diagnose and treat patients with pinworms.
- Several drugs may cure a patient with pinworms when administered over time.
- Natural and/or home remedies are available, but patients should check with their doctor before using them.
- Good hygiene can help prevent pinworm infections.
Can humans get pinworms?
Pinworm infection is an infection of the large intestine and anal area by a small, white parasite that resembles a "worm." The medical name for the parasite is Enterobius vermicularis, but it is commonly termed a pinworm in both the lay and medical literature. These parasites are also termed seatworms or threadworms, and the infections is medically termed enterobiasis or helminthiasis. Pinworms and other parasitic worms (which, as a group, are termed helminths) feed off of the host animal by adsorbing nutrients from the host animal. Pinworm infections are the most common helminth infection that occurs in the US. Pinworms only infect humans. Dogs, cats, or other animals cannot become infected.
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