Threadworms

What are threadworms? (click to close)

Threadworms ( also called Pinworms ) look like short pieces of white cotton about 5-10mm long and can infect anyone but are more frequently found in children.

When threadworm eggs are swallowed, they hatch in the gut and within two-four weeks , the adult worm moves down towards the anus where they lay many thousands of eggs. Those infected will pass out eggs which can then infect other family members and hence all household members should be treated. Threadworms cannot be picked up from animals but they do carry other worm types.

What are symptoms of threadworms? (click to close)

Itch and uncomfortable feeling around the anus, particularly at night. Restlessness, bed-wetting and irritability can also be present. This is caused by the glue surrounding the eggs which is irritating to skin. This glue like material can stick to the hands or lay under the fingernails and therefore easily transferred to the mouth , food or to someone else.

If you suspect your child has threadworms but cannot see them in the faeces, try examining the area around the child’s anus with a torch when the child has gone to sleep ( eggs are laid at night ) and you may see one or two worms coming out. Your doctor can do a sticky tape test to confirm the presence or otherwise.

What is the treatment for threadworms? (click to close)

  • Treatments come in both tablet and liquid varieties
  • All members of a household should be treated at the same time
  • A single dose treatment (repeated after 14 days ) is usually all that is required.

Are you pregnant or breastfeeding?

  • If you are in the first trimester of pregnancy or breastfeeding, you should not take medicines which kill worms
  • Simple hygiene measures may work instead because the worms die naturally after six weeks and provided you are careful regarding swallowing further eggs, you will become clear of worms as the life cycle has been broken over this time.

How do you prevent threadworms? (click to close)

As eggs can survive for up to two weeks outside the body on clothing, full hygiene around the home is important:

  • Wash all sleepwear, bed linen, towels, cloth toys etc
  • Vacuum and damp dust the home, particularly in bedrooms and on mattresses
  • Use disposable cloths when damp dusting
  • Wash your hands regularly when caring for children infected
  • Keep fingernails short and clean and discourage nail biting and thumb-sucking
  • Have a thorough shower at night and again in the morning to remove eggs laid during the night
  • Ideally change and wash nightwear on a daily basis.
Find out more about threadworms from your local Haven Pharmacist.