Pinworms in Children – Causes, Symptoms & Prevention
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Pinworm infections are common among shool-going children, and it can spread pretty quick from one child to another. It can also make its round to adults in the house if they come in contact with the eggs of the pinworm. Proper care and hygiene practices may help prevent these worms from spreading further and causing more discomfort to your child. This article aims at providing parents with information about a pinworm infection, it’s causes, symptoms, treatment, etc.
What Are Pinworms?
Pinworms are little worms that are white in colour and live in the rectal area after its eggs have been ingested accidentally. The pinworm eggs can stay alive on an outside host for up to two to three weeks. Once ingested, they hatch in the intestine, and mature female pinworms move out of the anus in the night and deposit eggs on the skin causing itchiness and discomfort.
While these worms are not known to cause any diseases, they can be very uncomfortable and give your child one too many sleepless nights.
Pinworms can range from 2 to 13 mm in size, and humans are the only natural hosts of them. The eggs, however, are microscopic and transparent and are not visible to the naked eye.
Causes of Pinworm in Kids
While anybody can contract pinworms, some of the most common causes of pinworms are seen in the following cases:
- Children in the school-going age group between 5 and 10 years are most likely to contract pinworms. This happens when an infected child itches the infected area and makes direct contact with the mouth of a child spreading the tiny transparent eggs. These can also be transferred to toys and other things and can spread to other children.
- Family members and caretakers of infected kids are likely to get infected.
- People who live in crowded accommodations or other such institutions.
- Children and adults who do not regularly wash their hands properly, especially before eating.
Symptoms of Pinworm in Children
It is possible that some children do not show any signs of pinworm infection. However, you may look out for these common symptoms that appear in infected children:
- Frequent itching and discomfort in the anal area, especially at night.
- Restlessness and lack of sleep due to discomfort in the anal area.
- Rashes or skin irritation around the anus.
- Visible pinworms in your child’s stools or in the rectal area.
- Abdominal pain on certain occasions.
- Sometimes vigorously scratching the infected area may lead to other bacterial infections.
Diagnosis of Pinworms in Children
Pinworms are easily visible to the naked eye. Hence, if your child’s bottom or stool has white worms on them, then he or she has pinworms. The best time to check this is immediately after your child wakes up in the morning, as the worms come out of the anus in the night. You can also check your child’s stool to check for white worms.
In case the worms are not visible, doctors may recommend a tape test. This is a simple procedure where you will have to take a transparent tape and stick it to the area around your child’s anus and pull it out. Any eggs deposited on the area will stick to the tape. This should be done on three consecutive mornings, and the tapes should be taken to the doctor, who will then see them through a microscope to check for pinworm eggs and confirm the infection.
Treatment for Pinworms in Children
Treatment for pinworms is given in the form of oral medications which are available over the counter. Pinworm medicine for kids can involve an initial dose, which is then followed by a second dose two or three weeks later. Albendazole, mebendazole, and pyrantel pamoate are the common medications prescribed. In case the itching is unbearable, like in moderate to severe cases, the doctor may prescribe ointments and creams to soothe the itching.
Since the eggs can spread to the parents, caregivers and family members also, it is possible that medication is given to all of the people who come in regular contact with the kid.
Home Remedies for Pinworms in Children
While not proven to work for everybody, you may try coconut oil as it is believed to curbing infections. You can give a teaspoon of pure coconut oil to your child to consume in the morning and also apply coconut oil in the anal area.
Prevention of Pinworms in Children
As with most infection, the key to preventing a pinworm infection largely depends on hygiene practices. Some of the steps that you can take to prevent pinworms are:
- Bathe your child every morning to clear out any eggs deposited on the skin.
- Keep the nails short and scrub them every day to get rid of any eggs that may have been trapped on the nails.
- Ensure to change your kid’s underwear every day.
- Hang your kid’s bed linen in the sun as pinworm eggs tend to be sensitive to light.
- Teach your child the practice of washing hands regularly, especially before eating.
- If your child has the habit of biting nails or sucking thumbs, discourage it.
- Wash your child’s linen in hot water to get rid of any eggs. You may also want to wash the linen more often.
- Don’t bathe other kids along with the infected one.
- Do not share towels to prevent the eggs from spreading.
- Remind your child to not scratch the anal area.
When Should You Call the Doctor?
It is best to consult a doctor when you begin to see the first symptoms of pinworms. YOu may also conduct a tape test and get confirmation from the doctor. We also recommend consulting your healthcare provider if you decide to try a home remedy, especially if the symptoms persist or you see visible white worms. You must also seek medical attention in case you see blood in the urine or stool, or your child complains of abdominal pain.
Pinworm infections are highly contagious, and its treatment should not be delayed. It is important for you to identify the symptoms on time and get timely treatment for your child to alleviate discomfort.