Pinworm, also referred to as seatworm or threadworm, is a human intestinal parasite which is found mostly in children. It spreads after a person comes in contact with another person who is harboring the pinworms and unknowingly ingests microscopic pinworm eggs. After the egg is ingested, it hatches and develops into another adult pinworm. These adult pinworms, in turn lay more eggs. Adult pinworms have a small, white thread-like structure. They are around 0.5 inches in length and can be seen easily through our naked eye. However, the eggs of the pinworm are very small in size and can be observed only under a microscope. The pinworm is the most common parasitic worm infestation that is prevalent in the United States. It is easy to detect the symptoms of pinworms and at the same time its treatment is also fairly simple. If you take proper precautions and the recommended medicines you can get rid of pinworm infection.
Pinworm infection spreads very easily from one person to another. The female pinworm deposits eggs in the anal region of an infected individual. When an infected person scratches his anal region to reduce his discomfort, the pinworm eggs gets transferred underneath the fingernails. These are then transferred to clothes, bedding, toys and other household objects. When these eggs get ingested by a person, pinworm infection occurs. Since pinworm eggs can survive up to two weeks outside the host's body, therefore there is a high chance of infection. Usually pinworm infection occurs due to inadequate hand washing before meals.
Although pinworm infection is mostly seen in children in the age group of 5-12 years, they can occur in adults too. Usually infected children transfer these intestinal parasites to adults in the family. One of the most common symptom of pinworm infection is rectal itching, which occurs mostly at night. The itching mostly happens at night because during that time, the female pinworm deposits eggs around the anal region. The itching is also because of inflammatory response to the adult worm and its eggs in the perineal tissue. If the itching is severe, there is a possibility of the skin breaking down, which can lead to the development of secondary bacterial infections. Other symptoms of pinworms are restless sleep, upset stomach and vaginal itching and irritation in women. Itching in the genital area, pain or burning sensation while urinating, worms in stool, grinding of the teeth, anxiety, nausea and diarrhea are also some symptoms of pinworm infection. Some other symptoms of pinworm infection are irritability and loss of appetite. If any of these symptoms are observed, then consulting a medical practitioner is a must. If adult pinworms are found in inflamed appendices, then the individual has to be operated in order to remove them.
The most effective and common treatment for pinworm is through medication. Usually medicines such as albendazole (Albenza) and mebendazole (Vermox) are prescribed by a doctor. These medication kill the worms completely. However, a second dose of the medication is required to be taken by the patient after a gap of two weeks. This is because pinworm eggs can survive for a few weeks which can increase the probability of reinfection. In order to flush out pinworms and reduce chances of a second infestation, you can opt for tap water enema. But this should only be done under the recommendation and supervision of your doctor.
Since pinworm infection is likely to occur in more than one member of the family, therefore it is best to treat all the members of the family at the same time. To prevent the spread of pinworm infection, it is best to follow some simple rules of hygiene. Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after using the bathroom and before having your food. Fingernails should be trimmed short and they should be kept clean at all times. Avoid biting or chewing your fingernails. Scratching of anal region should be strictly avoided, as it increases the chances of reinfection. In order to destroy all lingering eggs thoroughly, launder all the bedding, towels and clothing in hot water. Bedding of infected people should be laundered at least twice a week.
This was all about symptoms and treatment of pinworms in adults along with some ways to prevent pinworm infection. Maintaining hygiene is the most important step towards averting pinworms from plaguing your system.