Pinworm, seat worm, threadworm, itchy butt worm, enterobius vermicularis or oxiuris are all names of one intestinal worm that infects school children at a certain age (between 5 and 15) and it can cause a lot of trouble for them.

The children who go to school get infected and then go back home and infect the other family members and then go back to school again and infect other children. So there’s the vicious circle of infection happening around the house and the school. Maybe even the parent would infect their colleagues at work or friends, and so on. So, dealing with that worm will have to involve mass treatment of the house and the school at the same time.

That worm lives in the intestines of the infected person and actually we get infected with the egg of the worm by eating contaminated food or touching contaminated surfaces and then putting our hands in our mouth. Now, what happens next is that the worm comes out of the egg inside the intestines, in the form of larva. Larvae are very small worms. And then, they hang on the inside wall of the intestines and then grow up to be fully grown worms. In this case they can immigrate to the outside of the anus, around the anal area. So, from the rectum and the anus area you will find the adult worms laying eggs at night. And that causes the symptoms. The child will probably have nightmares about snakes crawling on them. That’s a sign that this could be an infection with a pinworm. So the problem’s that the child will wake up at night crying and itching around the anal area. And what you will see, maybe, if you check the anus at night, you might find these little worms around the anus. Sometimes you won’t see them. Some parents would take a torch and check around the anal area like this. Some other parents would take a tape and go around the anal area and stick it around the anal area like this and will see the little worms on the tape. So in fact these worms come out and have eggs laid around the anus and also might have an effect on the vaginal area of girls, so sometimes you’ll have vaginal discharge or inflammation around the vagina of the girl and then you are worried that there might have been any form of sexual assault on her. Please make sure that it’s not this pinworm.

On the underwear of the children, on the towels, on the bed sheets and especially on the toilet seats and on everything they touch with their little hands, especially their toys, all these toys can be affected with the eggs of the worm. The biggest cause of the spread of the infection is actually having long nails. So, the child has to have always very short nails and also other members of the family, the mother especially. So, you have to be careful that this should be a ritual, that you’re always clipping your child’s nails. Now we have the problem of itching at night, that might cause nightmares, and it might cause insomnia, and then the child would go to school not having had enough sleep, and this could affect their educational process. So, you will have to make sure that your child is having a good night’s sleep. How can you do that? As soon as your child cries and complains of the itching there’s an idea to use zinc oxide cream or Nivea cream, any thick cream. Take a little bit of it and put it around the anal area and a little bit inside the anus or around the infected area or inflamed area. Just put the cream around this area, like this. In this case, the worm will get kind of trapped into the cream and will not cause this irritation of the skin anymore. So, that’s a good way to make your child sleep peacefully.

Sometimes children will suffer from bed wetting because of that, so don’t get angry at them, make sure that they don’t have that infection.

And now, let’s see what we should do around the house to prevent the infection from happening and re-happening. First of all, prevent autoinfection. Autoinfection means to infect yourself. So, the child would scratch around the anus and then go eat something, the eggs are inside the nails, and then the eggs come inside again and have new worms. So, what you need is to cut the circle. So,  you will have to cut the nails always, you’ll have to spray the toilet seat everyday with disinfectant spray, there’s special spray to spray the toys of the child. Change there underwear everyday and wash them on very high temperature. Also towels and bed sheets, be very careful that they are clean and washed regularly. Don’t forget that one of the most important measures to prevent getting infected with this worm is washing hands before eating and after using the toilet. Teach your child to always do this. “Never forget to wash your hands after the toilet and before eating.” It’s very important also to inform the school and ask them to contribute to a sanitation program also around the school. So, maybe send out messages to other parents to do the same program at home. Also the toilet seats and the toys at school should be sprayed with disinfectant spray regularly.

At a doctors office you will take medication that can treat the worms from inside the intestines. But also you need to repeat it two weeks later. But remember that the worms outside are not affected by the medication, so washing everyday very well the anal area is very important.

Remember that this is not such a harmful worm, in the sense of doesn’t affect your child’s health and doesn’t cause any disease from inside, but it disturbs their sleeping pattern, and that’s the main problem. So, you need the child to get enough sleep to make sure that the educational process and his development would not be affected.

I wish you the best of health!

Alyaa Gad