What is Pinworm Infection?

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Pinworm Infection
Pinworm infection is the most common kind of intestinal worm infection in the United States and one of the most common worldwide. Pinworms are slim and white, measuring about 1/4 to 1/2 inches (about 6 to 13 millimeters) in length. While the infected person sleeps, female pinworms lay thousands of eggs in the folds of skin encircling the anus. Most people infected with pinworms do not have any symptoms, but some people have anal itching and restless sleep. Pinworm infection happens most usually in school-age children, and the tiny (microscopic) eggs are easily spread from child to child. Treatment includes oral drugs that kill pinworms and thorough washing of pajamas, bedding, and underwear. For best results, the whole family should be treated.

Pinworm Infection Symptoms

Symptoms of pinworm infection might include:

  •    Itching of the anal or vaginal region
  •    Insomnia, irritability, teeth grinding, and restlessness
  •    Occasional stomach pain and nausea

Pinworms usually cause no symptoms.

When should you see a doctor?

Consult your doctor if you have severe anal itching, particularly at night.

Pinworm Infection Causes

Accidentally swallowing or breathing in pinworm eggs leads to a pinworm infection. The tiny (microscopic) eggs could be carried to your mouth by contaminated food, drink, or your fingers. Once swallowed, the eggs hatch in the intestines and mature into adult worms within several weeks.

Female pinworms move to the anal region to lay their eggs, which usually results in anal itching. When you scratch the itchy region, the eggs cling to your fingers and get under your fingernails. The eggs then get transferred to other surfaces, like toys, bedding, or toilet seats. The eggs could also be transferred from contaminated fingers to food, liquids, clothes, or other people.

Pinworm eggs could survive for two to three weeks on surfaces.

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