Pinworm (or ernterobiasis) are tiny white worms – about 10 mm long – that are much more common in children, especially school children, than adults. The worms enter the body through contaminated food in the form of eggs. The eggs hatch in the intestines, and about two weeks later the female lays eggs around the rectum (anus). It can irritate the anus and the child will, if he/she scratches around it, have a few eggs on the fingers. If a child sucks his finger or does not wash hands before eating, another infection will occur. By transmitting eggs on food and laundry, a child can transfer the disease on the rest of the family.
The condition generally does not affect the health, but it can irritate if it is not treated; scratching can cause mild inflammation. Worms are most active at night and can be sometimes seen in a stool or around a child’s anus; they resemble tiny white lines. However, in most cases, the child feels no symptoms. If you notice these little worms, or if the child is constantly scratching around the anus, go to the doctor.
Self-help: the whole family should strictly adhere to hygiene. You should wash your hands after using toilet, after playing with a pet (which may also be infested) and before touching any food. Nails on your fingers should be cut short enough to minimize the possibility of egg shells falling below them. Children should wear a pajamas rather than a nightgown, as this reduces the possibility of touching anus with the fingers. Bed linen, pajamas and underwear should be changed often, dried and ironed to destroy any worms or eggs that may be present. If you have a pet, consult with a veterinarian.
Professional help: the whole family is treated (including family members without any symptoms) with short treatment or with a large dose of medicine that kills and ejects worms; the treatment is usually repeated after two weeks. Inflammation of the anus is alleviated by cream or greas, which may also contain means for destroying eggs. The problem is always solved by the mentioned means with the mentioned hygiene measures.