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Pinworm Information Page

Pinworms Information Page

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.