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
- What is pinworm infection?
- Who is at risk for getting pinworms?
- Pinworms in children
- Pinworms in adults
- What do pinworms look like (pinworm pictures)?
- What is the lifecycle of pinworms?
- How is pinworm infection spread?
- What are the symptoms of pinworms?
- How is pinworm infection diagnosed?
- What is the treatment of pinworms; is there a home treatment?
- What are the consequences of untreated pinworm infections?
- How are pinworm infections prevented?
How is pinworm infection spread?
Pinworm infection is spread person-to-person. 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.
What are the symptoms of pinworms?
Intense itching around the anus and/or vagina are the classic symptoms of pinworms. Less common symptoms range from upset stomach to loss of appetite, irritability, restlessness, and insomnia.
The symptoms of pinworm infection are caused by the female pinworm laying her eggs.
Most infected individuals have few or no symptoms but, if the infection is heavy, the symptoms can be correspondingly more severe.
How is pinworm infection diagnosed?
If pinworms are suspected, transparent adhesive tape or a pinworm paddle (supplied by your health care professional) are applied to the anal region. The eggs (and sometimes the parasites themselves) adhere to the sticky tape or paddle and are identified by examination under a microscope. The test is sometimes referred to as "the Scotch Tape test."
The test should be done as soon the affected individual wakes up in the morning (because bathing or having a bowel movement may remove most eggs and parasites). The exam may require several samples for diagnosis. Samples taken from under the fingernails may also contain eggs (since scratching of the anal area is common by affected individuals).
At night, the adult worms can sometimes be seen directly in bedclothes or around the anal area: this is another good time to detect the parasites with the transparent adhesive tape method.
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