Threadworms in Children

image001Threadworms are tiny, white worms which infect human intestines. They measure somewhere between 2 and 13 millimeters in length and are similar in appearance to cotton thread. Sometimes threadworms are also known as pinworms.

Threadworms are the most common parasitic worm for kids and actually affect up to 50% of those under 10. Other family members have a risk of up to 75% of getting them from a child who is infected. Despite this, threadworm (Enterobius vermicularis) is usually found in children. Read on to learn what causes it, how you can identify and treat threadworms in children.

What Causes Threadworms in Children?

It is incredibly easy for children to get threadworms simply by being children at preschool or nursery as the eggs spread easily. On average, threadworms lay 11,000 eggs around an infected child’s bottom and these eggs are too small for us to see.

  • Touching. The eggs usually make the skin itch so they will transfer to the child’s fingers when he scratches his bottom. If he forgets to wash his hands after going to the bathroom or scratching, he will then spread the threadworms. This is easy to do when sharing toys and playing in close contact with other children. After the threadworms get on a child’s hands, they will end up on anything and anyone he touches.
  • Putting in mouth. The eggs of threadworms will survive on a surface for up to two weeks. For your child to become infected, he simply has to touch a surface (such as a toy) with the eggs and then place his fingers into his mouth.
  • Breathing in. It is also possible for the eggs to get onto blankets, sheets, towels, and clothes. When you shake a blanket or towel with the eggs, they may go into the air. If this happens, your child can become infected by breathing them in.
  • Pets. Animals won’t carry or catch threadworms so they never directly pass them onto a child. Despite this, they can be transferred via pets if an infected child pets the animal and then your child does.

After the threadworm eggs enter your kid’s body, they go to his intestines to hatch and release threadworms.

How to Know If Your Kid Has Threadworms

Below are the signs of threadworms in children:

  • Itching. The biggest signs of threadworms are if your child’s bottom is very itchy so he is constantly scratching. Threadworms lay their eggs at night and because of this, the itchiness may increase at this time. Girls may develop the itchiness around their vagina as well.
  • Irritability and sleeping problems. In some cases your kid will not be able to sleep because of the extreme itchiness, leading to irritability. He might also stop eating because the threadworms cause discomfort and pain in his stomach.

How Can You Check?

Occasionally your kid’s symptoms are enough to verify the presence of threadworms. Despite this, it is a good idea to check your child as well. Simply look at his bottom during the late evening after he goes to bed. Gently part his buttocks and then shine a light around her anal opening. If there are threadworms, you will probably be able to see some crawling out or moving on nearby sheets or pajamas. You can also check his feces for threadworms.

Are Threadworms in Children Harmful?

Most of the time threadworms won’t cause more harm than simply itching and discomfort on your child’s bottoms. This can sometimes wake up your child or he may scratch and develop a sore bottom. If there are many threadworms, it can lead to mild abdominal pains that cause irritability. If a girl is infected, the threadworms may go forward, laying their eggs in her urethra or vagina. Doctors can check young girls for threadworms if they have difficulty passing urine, have vaginal discharge, or wet the bed. In very rare cases, threadworms may also lead to weight loss and a loss of appetite.

How Is Threadworm in Children Infection Diagnosed?

In cases where you aren’t positive your kid has threadworms and you haven’t actually seen any, you should take him to the doctor. He will use one or more of the following tests:

  • Sticky Tape Test: Your doctor will give you a glass slide or container. You then put clear tape by your child’s bottom right away in the morning before peeling it off and placing it in the container.
  • Cotton Bud Swab: The doctor might use a cotton swab and run it by your kid’s bottom to check for eggs.
  • Fecal Sample: Your doctor might ask for a small sample of your kid’s fecal matter to test for eggs or threadworms.

Watch the following video to learn an expert sharing information on causes, symptoms and remedy for threadworm in kids:

How Is Threadworm Infection Treated?

1. Treat Everyone in the Family

Luckily you can get rid of threadworm infection fairly easily. Unfortunately, you will have to treat every single person in your home whether or not they have threadworms. Everyone will need to take threadworm medication (even if they don’t have them). This medication will take care of any of the threadworms that are in their gut and you can easily get it at your local pharmacy over the counter.

2. Clean the Entire House

You will also need to clean your entire home to eliminate the threadworm eggs and keep cleaning frequently for a period of two weeks. This is the amount of time that the eggs survive on objects and surfaces.

3. Maintain Hygiene

You should also take the following hygiene steps:

  • Wash all of the bed sheets, towels, soft toys, and clothing of your child and anyone else who might be infected
  • Clean wooden or plastic toys (that your child enjoys playing with) using a damp cloth
  • Vacuum carpets and wash the hard floors
  • Clean all surfaces using a damp cloth (especially in the kitchen and bathroom). This prevents dry dust with eggs in it from going into the air and being inhaled or landing on other surfaces.
  • Never shake sheets or towels as this can release the eggs into the air (so they are inhaled or land on other surfaces).

4. Hygienic Measures that Family Members Should Take

In addition, everyone in your home should follow these hygienic measures:

  • Wear underwear that is loose-fitting at night. That way if you scratch, the eggs won’t go onto bedding and hands.
  • Change your underwear every morning and night.
  • Right away in the morning, wash around your bottom to get rid of any new eggs
  • Wash your hands regularly including underneath the fingernails, especially after going to the bathroom or before eating.
  • Keep your fingernails short to prevent yourself from catching eggs and then spreading them.
  • Don’t shake flannels or towels
  • Store toothbrushes inside a cupboard and rinse them before you use them.
  • Keep food covered as well as out of bedrooms.

Warnings

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or there is a baby less than three months old, talk to your doctor before starting treatment (as they may only recommend the hygiene measures). Follow the hygienic advice for six months as that is the amount of time before threadworms die off without medication.

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