Worms in Children: A Common & Treatable Condition
Pinworms are the most common
worm infection in the United States. Children are the most likely
to get pin worms, and while these parasites are relatively harmless,
pin worms in children and adults should be treated promptly.
Pin worms are small, white, thin roundworms that grow to the length
of a staple. They are often described as looking like little pieces
of white thread. These parasites live in the colon and rectum of
children and adults. When an infected person falls asleep, female
pinworms exit the body through the rectum and lay thousands of eggs
around the anus. This egg-laying activity causes the main symptom
of pin worms –intense itching around the anus–particularly
during sleep, which results in sleeplessness and restlessness.
Children are often infected with pin worms in group settings such
as classrooms, playgrounds, and child care centers. Pin worms are
spread in one way, from the anus to the mouth. Since children typically
do not wash their hands properly, pin worms are able to spread quickly
where children touch shared items like toys, food, drinks, bedding,
and other articles. Pin worms are not spread through pets.
If you suspect a case of pin worms in children, speak to your pediatrician.
Pin worms in children can be treated with prescription or over-the-counter
medication, but a pediatrician should always be consulted first.
Since this parasite is contagious, family members may also want
to be tested and treated for pin worm. You can prevent re-infection
of pin worms by teaching children good hygiene habits like washing
hands frequently and keeping fingernails short and clean.