Pinworms are tiny parasites that infect the intestines. A common problem that primarily affects children, pinworms are a nuisance but do not cause any significant harm. Also called threadworms, pinworms are highly contagious and are contracted through accidental ingestion of the eggs. The symptoms of pinworms include itching in the anal or sometimes vaginal area, and restless sleep. The treatment of a pinworm infection is relatively simple.
Assess the presence of pinworms in the child or individual displaying symptoms such as itching in the anal area. According to the Mayo Clinic, this can be done by using a piece of clear cellophane tape to take samples from the anus of the infected individual. Do this in the morning prior to bathing or any trips to the bathroom. The pinworm eggs and sometimes a pinworm will adhere to the tape.
Confirm that the child or individual has a pinworm infection by taking the piece of cellophane tape to your doctor for a diagnosis. Your doctor will prescribe an anti-worm medication such as mebendazole or pyrantel.
Treat the pinworms with the prescribed medication according to your doctor's instructions. Your doctor may recommend treating all family members as a preventive measure, as pinworms are highly contagious.
Complete the entire course of medication. Many anti-worm medications take the form of a single dose repeated after a period of two weeks.
Wait approximately one week for the symptoms to subside. The itching in the anal area may last up to a week after the medication is finished.
Assess the condition of the infected individual or child following the course of medication and the waiting period. If the symptoms are gone, you've successfully treated the pinworm infection, and the pinworms and their eggs are dead.
Visit your doctor if the symptoms of the pinworm infection do not clear up following treatment.
To prevent recurring infestations, wash your hands frequently, change your underwear and shower daily, and keep your fingernails clean and short. Discourage children from biting their nails and scratching their bottoms.