Pinworms (known professionally
as enterobius vermicularis), are an infection of the anal area
most common in children. The symptoms of Pinworms are nightime
irritation, restlessness, itching, and a crawling sensation in
the anal area. Pinworm infection is commonly spread in day care,
and is transmitted by children via toys and dirty fingers. Adult
or older siblings can contract Pinworms by contaminated food or
drink handled by the child.
From the time a pinworm
egg is swallowed until it becomes a full-grown worm is about 4
weeks. Pinworm eggs can live outside the intestinal tract for
up to three weeks. The itching is caused by when an adult female
worm surfaces to lay more eggs. In severe cases of pinworms, the
adult worms can be seen in fecal matter. An adult pinworm is white,
and about one-half inch long.
Pinworms are diagnosed
by applying a piece of clear cellophane tape to the child's perianal
area upon rising in the morning. It is important to do this before
the child has bathed, so the worms can be detected. The tape can
then be examined under a microscope or a magnifying glass.
The good news is Pinworms
are easily treated. A single dose of an over
the counter medication such as Pin-X clears up the problem
right away. If other family members suspect they may have been
infected, but have no signs of the symptoms, a
dose of Pin-X will keep Pinworms from developing.
Pinworms can be prevented
by proper handwashing, especially after using the bathroom and
before eating. After treatment, bed linens and pajamas should
be washed thoroughly and dried in the dryer on a high setting.
The bathroom and all surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected
thoroughly. It is often recommended that children stay home from
school or day care for 24 hours after being treated.