What are Pinworms?

Q: I overheard another mom talking about her child having a terrible time with an itchy bottom and that he had pinworms.  How does someone get a pinworm infection?

A: Pinworms cause the most common type of worm infection in children. They are essentially harmless, though they can cause lots of itching!

The worm is spread from one child to another by the transfer of eggs. An infected child will scratch himself, picking up an egg, transferring it to the sandbox or toilet seat where another child can pick up the egg and then unknowingly ingest it.  The eggs are swallowed, hatch and the worm makes its way to the anus and starts laying eggs. Hand-washing before eating can help reduce the spread of pinworms!

The worms cause terrible anal itching at night.  Sometimes parents can note the worms about the anus as well (white grey thin string objects).  Your child’s health care provider can test for the presence of eggs to note the infestation.

Pinworms can be easily treated with an oral prescription drug. When the infection is resolved, it is best to wash all clothes and bedding to reduce the risk of reinfection.

If you have questions about itchy problems and your child, please discuss with your child’s health care provider.

By Dr. Sharon Rink, pediatrician, ThedaCare Physicians-Pediatrics in Darboy.