The most common type of roundworm infection is the pinworm infection. Roundworms are basically intestinal parasites that use your body as a host to stay alive and reproduce. The microscopic eggs of the pinworms hatch inside your bodies and grow into adults that measure 13 millimeters or about half an inch. These worms mature inside the intestine and travel through the digestive system to lay their eggs in the anal area.
Spread of infection
An infected person, in most cases a child, transfers the infection when he/she has scratched his/her bare anal area and the eggs get under his/her fingernails. Apart from this, the pinworms are also spread in the following ways:
- Eggs may be passed on from an infected child who has not washed his/her hands after using the bathroom, and then touched a playmate or play toy.
- The eggs can also be transferred from the fingers onto bedding and clothing, and thus spread around the house.
- These eggs can also be inhaled from the air and deposited onto the food which is consumed.
- The eggs are able to spread for a longer time as they are able to survive up to two weeks on clothes, bedding, and other objects that are kept at room temperature.
If the infection is mild, then there may not be any symptoms. Most of the symptoms that do occur take place in case of moderate or severe infections.
Some of the symptoms in case of severe infections are:
- Itching that is concentrated around the anal area
- Difficulty sleeping
- A feeling of restlessness
- Loss of weight
- Gastrointestinal symptoms like intermittent abdominal pain and nausea
- Some girls may experience vaginal itching and irritation (vaginitus)
There are two methods used to diagnose this infection. The first is the direct sighting of a worm, where the adult worm is seen around the anus. The second method which is used is the tape test. This test involves the use of cellophane tape. In this procedure, a tape is pressed against the skin around the anus and then examined under a microscope. It is advisable to use this method of testing early in the morning before defecating or bathing since the parasites typically lay eggs at night.
No treatment is usually required for a mild infection. However, there are medicines that are almost always available for effectively eliminating the parasite. These medicines are usually prescribed for all the members of the family because children can easily pass on the infection to other members. The doctor may also prescribe a soothing ointment or cream if the vaginal or anal itching is severe and interfering with your sleep.
The doctor might also remind you to keep your fingernails clean, avoid scratching the anal area, and wash any potentially infected sheets and clothes.
To prevent the pinworm infection you need to:
- Wash your hands and fingernails frequently
- Encourage children to restrain from scratching their bare anal areas
- Bathe daily
- Change, and wash clothes and bedding frequently
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.