Pinworm Infection (cont.)
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.
In this Article
- 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 of pinworms aren't treated?
- Can pinworms be prevented?
- Pinworms Slideshow Slideshow Pictures
- Digestive Disease Myths Slideshow Pictures
- Ulcerative Colitis Slideshow Pictures
How do you get pinworms?
Pinworm infection is spread person-to-person. The symptoms of pinworm infection are caused by the female pinworm moving and laying her eggs, and this usually occurs at night. Within a few hours of being deposited on the skin around the anus, pinworm eggs become infective (capable of infecting another person). They can survive up to two weeks on clothing, bedding, or other objects. Infection is acquired when these eggs are accidentally swallowed, usually due to inadequate hand washing by the parents and children. However, eggs on bedding or other objects that are touched while the eggs are still viable can cause infection or reinfection of people.
Can you get pinworms in the vagina?
Yes, pinworms can infect the vagina (about 20% of infected girls). Infrequently, the pinworms can go on to infect the Fallopian tubes and other structures.
What do pinworms and their eggs look like (pinworm pictures)?
The pinworms are white, can be seen with the naked eye (no magnification) and are about the length of a staple (about 8-13 mm for female and 2-5mm for male worms). The eggs that are laid by the female worms are not visible as they are about 55 micrometers in diameter and are translucent (see Figure 1).
The male and female worms live for the most part within the rectum of humans but have a life cycle in humans that involves rectal/oral transmission (see Figure 2).
While an infected person is asleep, female pinworms leave the intestines through the anus and deposit eggs on the skin around the anus. This causes itching and irritation of the surrounding 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. The eggs hatch into larval forms in the small intestines 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.
Figure 1, picture of pinworm and pinworm eggs (magnified); (image courtesy of CDC.gov)
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