Do your children
complain about having to wash their hands and trim their fingernails?
If they do, here’s a great reason you can give them to be
neat and clean: pinworms. Pinworm infection is very common; it is
actually the most common roundworm parasite infection in the United
States. Health care professionals believe pinworm affects 200 million
people around the world and about one third of Americans, mostly
Pinworm is a tiny
parasite that lives inside the intestine. Pinworm eggs are microscopic
and adult pinworms are only about 5-10 millimeters in size. The
adult pinworm is sometimes called a threadworm because it looks
like a staple-sized piece of white thread. Depending on the severity
of a pinworm infection, a child or adult may have no symptoms or
may experience discomfort from a mild to moderate pinworm infection.
the rectum is a major symptom of a pinworm infection. The itching
is caused by the adult female pinworm after it matures, travels
through the digestive tract, and lays eggs in the anal area, typically
at night. In addition to itching, a pinworm infection may cause
restlessness, abdominal pain, and nausea, but pinworm is not known
to cause injury or harm to children or adults who are infected.
is quite contagious. Pinworms are spread when a person—often
a child—itches his or her bottom and transfers pinworm eggs
to other surfaces. Pinworm eggs can live up to three weeks outside
the body. Therefore, anyone who touches a surface contaminated with
pinworm eggs can easily pick up a pinworm infection.
are common in areas where children congregate for long periods of
time such as schools, daycare centers, and playgrounds. Poor hygiene
and a warm climate increase the chances of a child catching a pinworm
parasite. Pinworm does not come from pets or animals. To prevent
a pinworm infection, children should be encouraged to wash their
hands frequently, especially after going to the bathroom and before
eating. Children should also bathe and change their underwear daily.
It often helps to teach children that many germs, like pinworm,
are so tiny they are invisible so it is important to wash even if
one’s hands and body don’t “look” dirty.