General or Other | - Others | Pinworms (Disease)


Pinworms are parasites about the length of a staple that live in the rectum.

The most common symptom of pinworms is an itchy rectal area. Symptoms are worse at night when the female worms are most active and crawl out of the anus to deposit their eggs. Although pinworm infections can be annoying, they rarely cause serious health problems and are usually not dangerous.

Causes and Risk factors

Pinworms get inside the body when you swallow their eggs. While you sleep, the female pinworms leave the intestines through the anus and deposit eggs on nearby skin. This can cause intense anal itching.

Complications from pinworms are rare. Pinworms spread through human-to-human transmission, by ingesting (i. e. swallowing) infectious pinworm eggs and/or by anal insertion. The eggs are hardy and can remain viable (i. e. infectious) in a moist environment for up to three weeks. They do not tolerate heat well, but can survive in low temperatures: two-thirds of the eggs are still viable after 18 hours at -8 degrees Celsius.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Testing is also available to look for eggs on a pinworm prep or collected with a scotch tape test (which your pediatrician will look at under a microscope). In children over age two years, treatment usually includes either mebendazole or Pin-X (pyrantel pamoate), an over-the-counter that is available as a liquid.

One of the keys to treatment of pinworms is to repeat the dose in 2 weeks to be sure and kill newly hatched eggs. Also, since some family members may have a pinworm infestation without symptoms, it is sometimes recommended that the whole family be treated, taking caution in treating children under age 2 years and pregnant women. ...

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