Pinworms are small worms that
infect the intestines.
Pinworms are the most common worm
infection in the United States. They are most common in school-age children.
Pinworm eggs are spread directly from person to person. They can also be
spread by touching bedding, food, or other items contaminated with the eggs.
Typically, children are infected by unknowingly touching pinworm eggs and
putting their fingers in their mouths. The eggs are swallowed, and
eventually hatch in the small intestine. The worms mature in the colon.
Female worms then move to the child's anal area, especially at night, and
deposit more eggs. This may cause intense itching. The area may even become
infected. When the child scratches the itching anal area, the eggs can get
under the child's fingernails. These eggs can be transferred to other
children, family members, and items in the house.
1. Difficulty sleeping due to the
itching that occurs during the night
2. Intense itching around the anus
3. Irritability due to itching and interrupted sleep
4. Irritated or infected skin around the anus, from constant scratching
5. Irritation or discomfort of the vagina in young girls (if an adult worm
enters the vagina rather than the anus)
6. Loss of appetite and weight (uncommon, but can occur in severe
Exams and Tests
Pinworms can be spotted in the anal
area, especially at night when the worms lay their eggs there.
Your doctor may have you do a tape test. A piece of cellophane tape is
pressed against the skin around the anus, and removed. This should be done
in the morning before bathing or using the toilet, because bathing and
wiping may remove eggs. The doctor will stick the tape to a slide and look
for eggs using a microscope.
The main treatment is a single dose
of either mebendazole or albendazole, which kill the pinworms (not the
eggs).These are available over-the-counter and by prescription.
More than one household member is likely to be infected, so the entire
household is often treated. The single-dose treatment is often repeated
after 2 weeks. This treats worms that hatched since the first treatment.
To control the eggs:
1. Clean toilet seats daily
2. Keep fingernails short and clean
3. Wash all bed linens twice a week
4. Wash hands before meals and after using the toilet
Avoid scratching the infected area
around the anus. This can contaminate your fingers and everything else that
you touch afterwards.
Keep your hands and fingers away from your nose and mouth unless they are
freshly washed. Carry out these measures while family members are being
treated for pinworms.
Pinworm infection is fully
1. Pelvic inflammatory disease
2. Repeated infection with the parasite (re-infestation)
When to Contact a
Call for an appointment with your
health care provider if:
1. You or your child has symptoms of pinworm infection
2. You have seen pinworms on your child
Wash hands after using the bathroom
and before preparing food. Wash bedding and underclothing frequently,
especially those of any affected family members.
Threadworm; Seatworm; Enterobius vermicularis; E vermicularis; Helminthic
Dent AE, Kazura JW. Enterobiasis (Enterobius
Vermicularis). In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds.
Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;