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Pinworms (Pinworm Infection in Children and Adults, Enterobiasis)

Pinworms facts

  • 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.
Reviewed on 5/27/2016
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