Pinworm Infection During Pregnancy
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- What Are Pinworms?
- Are Pinworms Common During Pregnancy?
- Causes of Pinworm Infection During Pregnancy
- Signs and Symptoms of Pinworms
- What Are the Complications of Pinworm Infection During Pregnancy?
- Does a Pinworm Infection Affect the Unborn Baby?
- How Is Pinworm Infection Diagnosed During Pregnancy?
- How Is Pinworm Infection Treated During Pregnancy?
- Food to Eat and Avoid While Pinworm Infection During Pregnancy
- Safety of Deworming During Pregnancy
- Precautions to Take During Pregnancy
- When to Consult a Doctor?
Pregnant women experience many changes in their bodies; however, not all changes are pleasant – some can be downright annoying. Women sometimes experience itching in their vaginal or rectal area, usually at night. Random itching could indicate irritation, but it could be a pinworm infection if it happens regularly. The pinworm infection is a common intestinal parasite infection known as the threadworm. Not many know a pinworm infection and its effect on pregnancy and the growing baby. In this article, we will tell you about the pinworm in pregnancy.
What Are Pinworms?
Pinworms are the parasitic worms that thrive by staying inside the large intestine of a human being. There are both male and female variants of it. The itching that women observe in the vaginal region is a result of the female pinworm emerging out of the anus and laying eggs near the vagina for more pinworms to hatch.
Are Pinworms Common During Pregnancy?
A pinworm infection doesn’t happen because of pregnancy, but it is common during pregnancy. The presence of the parasites that cause pinworms in pregnancy around the household may result in a pinworm infection. Moreover, pinworms can spread rather effectively from one person to another, and if someone does have pinworms, there is a chance that others could have it as well. Pregnancy might bring well-wishers to your home, some of whom might have the infection and thus the infection may spread if you have poor hygiene practices.
Causes of Pinworm Infection During Pregnancy
Pinworms are primarily present only in the genital areas and the anal region. The infection, however, occurs simply due to inadequate hygiene.
- The tiny eggs deposited around the anus by a female worm may spread the infection.
- A person with a pinworm infection will be tempted to scratch the vaginal or anal area, if they do so, the eggs may lodge under their fingernails and may get transferred to anything they touch.
- If you touch the contaminated surfaces during pregnancy and touch your mouth, you may ingest the eggs and could develop the pinworm infection.
- The eggs from a person’s anus can also get transferred to clothes, bedsheet, hands, carpet, undergarments, etc., which may cause the infection to spread.
- Using common towels is a problem as well since an infected person using it to wipe himself clean could leave pinworms or their eggs on it, which may get transferred to another person.
Signs and Symptoms of Pinworms
There are a few prominent signs of pinworm infection that you will notice if you have a pinworm infection:
- The most common sign of a pinworm infection is itching around the anus, especially during the night.
- Spotting pinworms in the poop.
- Abdominal pain.
- A feeling of nausea accompanied by a loss of appetite.
- Substantial weight loss in a person since pinworms take all the nutrition.
What Are the Complications of Pinworm Infection During Pregnancy?
Pinworm infection during pregnancy can be concerning as it poses potential risks to the expectant mother and the unborn child. While pinworms are typically not harmful, the complications associated with this infection can be problematic. Here are some complications of pinworm infection during pregnancy:
- Increased Discomfort: Pregnant women may already experience discomfort, and pinworm itching can exacerbate this, leading to stress and difficulty sleeping.
- Restlessness and Sleep Disturbances: The itching, particularly at night, can lead to sleep disturbances, affecting the pregnant woman’s rest and overall well-being.
- Secondary Infections: Excessive scratching can break the skin, increasing the risk of bacterial skin infections, which may require medical attention.
- Impact on Fetal Development: Although rare, severe pinworm infections during pregnancy could potentially affect fetal development if left untreated. This underscores the importance of prompt diagnosis and treatment.
- Emotional Stress: Dealing with pinworm infection can be emotionally distressing for pregnant women, leading to anxiety and worry about their health and their unborn child.
- Potential Complications at Birth: In rare cases, a heavy pinworm infection in the mother could lead to complications during childbirth, such as an increased risk of infection transmission to the newborn.
Does a Pinworm Infection Affect the Unborn Baby?
If you are pregnant and have pinworm infection, obviously you will wonder whether or not it can result in pregnancy complications. But you need not worry, as the presence of pinworms doesn’t affect the baby in any way. The infection is restricted to the intestinal region and causes discomfort and itching only to the mother. This is why doctors usually stay away from giving any medicine for it to a pregnant woman and suggest using better hygiene practices instead.
How Is Pinworm Infection Diagnosed During Pregnancy?
Your doctor may use one of the following methods to diagnose pinworms:
1. Tape Test
This test uses cellophane tape for diagnosing pinworms. In this test, a piece of plastic tape is placed against the skin around the anus, which is then placed under the microscope to check for pinworms. This test can be performed at home too – the tape can be taken to the doctor to confirm if you have the pinworm infection.
2. Moistened Swab
A doctor or nurse may take a moistened swab from around the anal region to check for pinworms. But most of the times, the treatment is given after local examination when symptoms point towards the infection.
How Is Pinworm Infection Treated During Pregnancy?
There are several home remedies for pinworm treatment in pregnancy that a woman can opt for and some medicines that a doctor might recommend should the infection get severe.
If you have the pinworm infection, you can opt for medication. However, you should not take over-the-counter medication for pinworms. You must consult a doctor for the same. In times of pinworm infection, medication is usually suggested to all the family members in order to prevent any other person from spreading it again. A primary dose of albendazole, mebendazole and pyrantel pamoate is suggested as the first-line treatment. This takes care of most worms. After a couple of weeks, a repeat dose is given to take care of any worms that might have survived or freshly hatched. However, these medicines should be taken only when approved by the doctor.
2. Home Remedies
A pinworm infection is better treated with medicines as compared to home remedies since these can take a long time to be effective. Some people might suggest using wormwood to kill intestinal worms, which is quite effective, but entirely unsafe for a pregnant woman. Instead, opting for a few garlic, cloves and consuming it with vegetables or salads, can be a good starting point to reduce the pinworms from causing any discomfort.
Food to Eat and Avoid While Pinworm Infection During Pregnancy
Foods to Eat
Here are the foods to consider eating while dealing with pinworm while pregnant without bold formatting:
1. Yoghurt (With Probiotics)
- Yoghurt contains probiotics, beneficial bacteria that can support your gut health.
- Probiotics may help restore the balance of good bacteria in your digestive system, promoting overall wellness during pregnancy.
- Opt for plain, unsweetened yoghurt to avoid added sugars.
- Garlic is known for its natural antimicrobial properties.
- Including garlic in your meals can provide immune-boosting benefits, particularly helpful when dealing with infections.
- You can add minced garlic to soups, stews, or stir-fries for flavour and health benefits.
3. Leafy Greens (Spinach, Kale, Collard Greens)
- Leafy greens are packed with essential vitamins and minerals, such as folate, iron, and vitamin C, vital during pregnancy.
- These nutrients can support your immune system and overall health while fighting an infection.
- Incorporate them into salads, smoothies, or sautéed dishes.
4. Berries (Blueberries, Strawberries, Raspberries)
- Berries are rich in antioxidants, including vitamin C, which can help boost your immune system.
- They also provide fibre and natural sweetness to your diet, making them a healthy and delicious choice.
- Enjoy them as a snack, in yoghurt, or blended into smoothies.
Foods to Avoid
When dealing with a pinworm infection during pregnancy, it’s essential to be cautious about your food choices to ensure the well-being of both you and your unborn child. Here are some foods to avoid:
- Raw or undercooked eggs
- Unpasteurised dairy products
- Raw seafood
- Processed meats
- Unwashed produce
Safety of Deworming During Pregnancy
Deworming during pregnancy should be done under the guidance of a healthcare provider. The safety of deworming depends on factors like the type of medication, timing, and the pregnant woman’s health. It’s typically considered when the potential risks of the worm infection to the mother and the fetus outweigh the risks associated with deworming medication. Safe medications can be prescribed, with the timing often recommended during the second trimester. Close monitoring and follow-up are essential to ensure effectiveness and safety. Self-medication is not advised, and pregnant women should always consult their healthcare provider for guidance on deworming.
Precautions to Take During Pregnancy
Taking medicines can help treat pinworm infections, and maintaining hygiene can keep them away in the first place. However, by taking precautionary measures, you can prevent pinworm during pregnancy.
- Clean your toothbrush thoroughly after every use and keep it in a closed space.
- Clean your house regularly and avoid having meals in the bedroom.
- Choose underwear that fits you snugly and change it at least twice a day.
- Use hot water to wash your clothes with some disinfectant.
- Avoid scratching your anal area constantly.
- Avoid using public toilets.
- Cut your nails regularly to prevent pinworms from getting lodged under your fingernails.
- Keep your hands clean by washing them as frequently as possible.
When to Consult a Doctor?
Consult a doctor if you suspect a pinworm infection during pregnancy. Common signs of a pinworm infection include itching around the anus, restlessness at night, and possibly observing tiny, thread-like worms in stool or around the anal area. It’s essential to seek medical advice for the following reasons:
- Pregnancy-Specific Guidance: A healthcare provider can assess your situation and recommend safe and appropriate treatments for pinworms during pregnancy.
- Risk Evaluation: They will determine the severity of the infection and assess any potential risks to you and your developing baby.
- Treatment Recommendations: If necessary, the healthcare provider will prescribe suitable medications, considering the stage of your pregnancy and overall health.
- Monitoring: Regular follow-up appointments can ensure the effectiveness of treatment and provide guidance on preventing reinfection.
The presence of pinworms or threadworms in pregnancy can be quite alarming and irritating for women. But it does not pose any risk to the baby. Home remedies can help you get temporary relief and treat them effectively once and for all after you deliver your child.
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2. Wendt. S, Trawinski. H, Schubert. S, et al.; The Diagnosis and Treatment of Pinworm Infection; Dtsch Arztebl Int.; PubMed Central; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6522669/; March 2019
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4. Resources for Health Professionals; Centers of Disease Control and Prevention; https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/pinworm/health_professionals/index.html
5. Worm Infections in PREGNANCY and BREASTFEEDING; NSW Government; https://www.seslhd.health.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/migration/Mothersafe/documents/ThreadwormFactv