Threadworms, known more commonly as pinworms or roundworms, are parasites that make their way through your intestines and take up residence in your digestive system. Eventually, they will lay eggs in the area around the anus where they will hatch and mature. Thankfully, treating a threadworm infection is simple and involves a prescription anti-parasitic medication, as well as a number of at-home prevention tips and remedies to alleviate symptoms.
Symptoms and Causes
The symptoms of a threadworm infection vary depending on the severity of the infection. Mild infections typically cause no symptoms, while moderate to severe ones involving hundreds of worms can cause gastrointestinal problems such as sporadic nausea and pain in the abdominal area. Non-physical symptoms include restlessness and irritability. If the worms lay eggs around the area of the anus or vagina, severe itching may occur, often leading to insomnia and fatigue. An infection occurs when you ingest food or drink contaminated with threadworm eggs.
Treating a threadworm infection is simple and involves a prescription of antiparasitic medications; however, treatment is only necessary when symptoms are present. The most commonly prescribed medications is albendazole and pyrantel, which are known as anti-helminthics. As they work, they kill the adult pinworms as well as any eggs or maturing worms. This is to prevent the infection from recurring. At times, several doses are necessary to completely eradicate the infection, and the medication should be taken according to the directions.
Anti-parasitics could cause unwanted side effects, though this is common. Some side effects that may be caused by albendazole include a skin rash, sore throat, fatigue and weakness, although these are rare. Other, less serious side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, headache and abdominal pain. Although rare, a thinning of the hair may occur as well. The side effects of pyrantel are much the same as albendazole. If you experience any of these side effects you should consult a doctor immediately.
Treating a threadworm infection at home is focused on alleviating any itching or unwanted side effects. If you experience frequent bouts of diarrhoea or vomiting, you should be sure to consume regular amounts of water, as excessive loss of fluids can occur in such a situation. A soothing cream, either prescription or over-the-counter, can be applied to the anal or vaginal area to reduce the itching and discomfort caused by the laying of the threadworm eggs. Finally, avoid scratching the area as much as possible, making sure to keep your fingernails clean and short to lower the risk of accidentally scratching the area and causing another infection.
Preventing a threadworm infection is as simple as practicing good hygiene. always make sure you wash your hands, especially when coming into contact with a known infected individual. It is also recommended that you do this after going to the bathroom, as faeces can transfer the parasite eggs. This is especially beneficial to prevent the spread of the infection to others. Be sure to wash bedsheets and underwear thoroughly in hot water to kill any eggs. Finally, make sure the food you're eating and the water you're drinking is not contaminated. Boil water and cook meat thoroughly, especially if you're in an area with poor sanitation.