First of all, don't panic! Believe it or not, threadworms are a lot more common than you might think. Trust me, I've been there, done that and I've worn the t-shirt. As gross as they might sound and look, you will probably laugh about it in a weeks time or maybe become a bit of an expert in worms, like myself.
First of all, don't panic! There is no need to burn down the house. Believe it or not, threadworms are a lot more common than you might think. Trust me, I've been there, done that and I've worn the t-shirt. As gross as they might sound and look, you will probably laugh about it in a weeks time or maybe become a bit of an expert in worms, like myself.
Threadworms, also known as pinworms are small worm parasites that infect the small intestine of both adults and children.
Worms look like small pieces of white thread and can live up to six weeks. The female threadworm can measure up to 13mm long while the male worm measures between 2-5mm long.
Threadworms are the most common parasite infection in children and according to the HSE, 40% of children under the age of 10 may be infected with threadworms.
Threadworms spread when their eggs are swallowed. Worms lay their eggs around the anus, which make it extremely itchy. These eggs then get stuck in fingernails when children scratch their bums. Eggs can be passed onto anything from toys, food, pets, clothes, bedding and toothbrushes.
Symptoms of worms
- Severe irritability
- Extreme itching around the anus or vagina, particularly at night
- Increased appetite or loss of appetite
- Difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain
- And of course, worms can sometimes be found in stools
Threadworms are very difficult to see because they are so small. The best time to investigate whether your child has worms or not is at night when the female worms come out of the anus to lay their eggs.
At least two to three hours after your child fell asleep check their anus and underwear using a torch. If your child has worms they will be visible. Eggs are not visible to the naked eye.
Treatment for worms
You can buy liquid medicine or a chewable tablet for threadworms over the counter from any pharmacies.
If one person is infected the whole family must be treated in your household, even if they don't have any symptoms of worms.
If any of your children are under 2 or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
inform your pharmacist. Over the counter medicines such as Vermox may not be suitable and you may need to visit your GP.
Medicines for treating threadworms only kill the worms, it does not kill the eggs. Eggs can live outside the body for up to two weeks.
Other ways to prevent worms from spreading throughout your home:
- Keep fingernails trimmed short
- Wash hands thoroughly and scrub under fingernails especially before eating, after using the toilet or changing a nappy
- Regularly encourage children to wash hands
- Shower every morning
- Make sure children wear underwear at night
- Rinse toothbrushes before every use
- Wash all pyjamas, bedding and soft toys
- Disinfect all surfaces
- Vacuum the whole house
According to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre once children have been treated for threadworms there is no need to keep your child off school or pre-school
. Inform your child's teacher to allow them to follow strict hand hygiene practices within the class to prevent further spread of the infection.