Pinworms (Enterobious vermcularis), according to the Center for Disease Control, are a type of roundworm which infests the rectums and colons of humans. Female pinworms deposit their eggs in the skin around the anus while their human hosts are asleep.
The eggs are then shed in bedding and clothing and on toilet seats, where they can survive for up to three weeks and be transferred to new hosts. Airborne eggs can be inhaled.
Mild pinworm infestations are often asymptomatic, but heavy ones can cause severe anal itching, insomnia and nausea.
Over-the-Counter Pinworm Medication
Medication is the treatment of choice for pinworm infestations. Pyrantel pamoate, available in several US brands including Reese's Pinworm Medicine, Reese's Pinworm Tablets and Pin-X, is an over-the-counter antiparasitic medication. It works by paralysing the worms so they can't lay their eggs and are evacuated in the stool.
Reese's 24-pack Pinworm Tablets contain 62.5 mg of pyrantel pamoate. They're scored for easy dosage. Reese's 50mg/ml Pinworm Medicine oral suspension, sold in 1- and 59.1ml bottles, comes with a measuring cup.
Buy pyrantel tablets or suspension at your pharmacy or online. Store it away from heat and light. Refrigerate, but don't freeze, the suspension.. (Resource 2)
Talk to your doctor before using pyrantel. Pfizer, pyrantel's original manufacturer, advises that people with existing liver disease use pyrantel with caution because in rare instances it has caused elevated levels of the liver enzyme AST. No studies have been done to determine pyrantel's effects on people's ability to drive or operate machinery.
Pfizer also recommends that pregnant women avoid using pyrantel unless their doctors advise it, and that nursing mothers should stop nursing if their doctors prescribe pyrantel. Don't give pyrantel to any child under one year old because its safety in children of that age hasn't been tested.
The Physician's Desk Reference says that people either taking piperazine or under treatment for myasthenia gravis shouldn't take pyrantel. The publishers also recommend that you ask your doctor about taking iron supplements during your pyrantel treatment. If you're on theophylline, speak to your doctor about whether your dose should be adjusted.
When it's used to treat pinworms, the normal pyrantel dose is 11mg/kg (0.998kg.) of weight. Your doctor will recommend the correct dosage. Take it in a single dose regardless of the time of day whether or not your stomach is empty, with juice or milk if you like. Very occasionally people have required a second dose of pyrantel two or three weeks following the first.
Shake the oral suspension thoroughly and use the measuring cup in the package to administer the correct amount.
Have everyone in the family take pyrantel even if only one person has a confirmed case of pinworms because they are highly contagious.
Pyrantel Side Effects
The most serious side effects of pyrantel are hives, itching and rash. They indicate an allergy and if you experience any of them, call your doctor. Milder side effects are diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps. Dizziness, insomnia and headaches may also occur, but if you take pyrantel as your doctor prescribes your risk of any side effects is very small.