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
- 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?
- Pinworm Infection At A Glance
What is the treatment of pinworms; is there a home treatment?
- Usually a single tablet of
mebendazole (Vermox) is used for treatment. This can sometimes be repeated a week later or, if infection persists,
the medication is given again three weeks later. Some clinicians recommend a
treatment protocol of a drug dose every 3 weeks, 3 times, so that the person has
effective drug treatment for about 9 weeks total.
- Another effective medication is
albendazole (Albenza) but it
may require other medications to reduce the inflammation of the central nervous
system, a side effect of the drug.
- Pyrantel pamoate (Pin-Rid,
Pin-X) is available over-the-counter for pinworm after confirmation of the diagnosis by a licensed healthcare
practitioner. Drugs available over-the-counter vary from country to country.
- To treat pinworms affecting urinary and genital organs, combination therapy with oral mebendazole (Vermox) and ivermectin (Stromectol) for the worms as well as topical therapy for the eggs may be required.
Most pinworm infections are treated at home with the above medications. However, reinfection is fairly common. To both reduce the chances for reinfection and to help prevent others from getting pinworms, see the prevention section.
What are the consequences of untreated pinworms?
When untreated, pinworms can cause:
- significant malabsorption of food,
- genital itching,
- bedwetting (enuresis), or
- vaginal discharge which can be associated with genital skin irritation and rash.
Although the symptoms of severe infestation can mimic appendicitis, the statement that pinworms cause appendicitis is controversial. However, people infected with pinworms show a higher incidence of appendicitis, but the reasons for this increase are not entirely clear. Infrequently, the worms may migrate to and cause irritation to the male and female genital tracts. Pinworm infections may, along with intense scratching, cause secondary bacterial infections to occur. When pinworms migrate to the female genital tract, internal scars can form in the female reproductive organs.
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