Pinworm infections are the most common
type of intestinal worm infection in the United States. In fact, it is
reported that there are about 40 million people in the U.S. that are
affected by pinworms. The infections develop in the large intestine
and in the anal areas. The parasites in humans responsible for pinworm
infections are called pinworms.
The Life Cycle of Pinworms
Pinworms are small, white, thread-like
worms that live in the human intestine. They are contracted by
swallowing pinworm eggs. The eggs are too small to notice with the
naked eye; therefore anybody can swallow the eggs without realizing
it. After swallowing, the eggs are then moved to the small intestine
where they can hatch and develop into larvae. Once the larvae reach
maturity within 2-6 weeks, they move into the large intestine to live.
The adult female pinworms, on the other hand, will travel through the
rectum to the person’s outer anus. They will lay eggs in there and
then travel back to the large intestine. After the eggs hatch, they
will also travel through the person’s anus to reunite with the other
pinworms living in the large intestine.
Pinworm Infection Symptoms
The intestinal parasites known as
pinworms can greatly affect school-age children – especially
preschoolers. That might be because these children are much more prone
to eat anything that is given to or found by them. Their curiosity as
well as eating too many foods off the street can lead to an ingestion
of pinworm eggs. Adults are also susceptible to pinworm infection –
especially mothers of children who are currently infected. Mothers
might touch the eggs while caring for their children and then hands
that are contaminated can touch the mouth area allowing the eggs to
enter the body. Sexual activity of adults – especially the oral sex –
can also cause pinworm infections.
The most common symptom of a pinworm
infection is severe itching around the anus or vagina. Less common
symptoms range from an upset stomach to loss of appetite,
irritability, restlessness, and insomnia. Of course, who can get
enough sleep if you can’t help but scratch your anus area because of
the intense itching? The symptoms of pinworm infections usually occur
when the female pinworm is laying its eggs in the anus.
Pinworms in humans are easy to
diagnose. If you suspect you might have a pinworm infection, an
adhesive tape or pinworm paddle will be attached to your anal area.
The eggs or the female pinworm itself will adhere to the sticky tape.
Then with the use of a microscope doctors can identify the presence of
pinworms. The test is sometimes known as the “scotch tape test”, and
the test should be done before the individual takes a bath or has a
bowel movement. Such activity may remove the eggs and pinworm most
readily available while allowing parasites further inside the body to
escape detection temporarily.
The usual and most common treatment for
pinworm infections is one tablet of Mebendazole. This treatment can be
repeated after a week – especially if itching still persists. Some
clinics would recommend a treatment protocol of 3 weeks/3 times so the
person has effective treatment for a total of 9 weeks. Though pinworm
infections can be treated at home, disinfection measures should begin
as soon as the treatment begins in order for you and your family to
totally get rid of the pinworms.
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