Hookworms and pinworms are both small worms typically less than one inch in length. Hookworm and pinworm infestation is normal for human beings, though both can cause discomfort, such as itching. The best and easiest treatment is practicing good sanitation. However, even with good sanitation, infestation can still occur. Fortunately, treatments exist.
Hookworms are worms that are parasitic to humans. There are two types of hookworms that affect humans, both belonging to the Ancylostomatidae family. Necator americanus is the only member of the Necator genus that infects humans. The other genus, Ancyclostoma, is usually less than a half inch in length and has only one species that is a serious threat to humans. This species’ scientific name is Ancyclostoma duodenale.
The best treatment for hookworms is prevention. The best way to prevent parasitic takeover is practicing proper sanitation and wearing sturdy clothes. Footwear provides a barrier and does not allow hookworms to plant eggs into the target host. A second means of prevention is vaccination.
Unfortunately, humans are still susceptible to hookworm parasites even after enacting good prevention measures. There are four different medications that can be used to treat a hookworm infestation. Albendazole, levamisole, mebendazole, and pyrantel pamoate are all low cost and readily available. Even third-world countries that lack strong financial resources regularly use these drugs to fight hookworm. All of these drugs fight infestation by killing hookworm eggs, which are the source of the continual infestation.
Pinworms, like hookworms, are parasitic worms that infect horses, rabbits and other mammals, and typically infect children between 5 and 14 years of age. There is only one type of pinworm that affects humans. This particular pinworm targets the intestines and rectum. Pinworms lay eggs at the end of the anus in their hosts. This causes discomfort and leads to itching. When this happens, the eggs will detach and reattach to the hands of the host. If the hands are not sanitised, the eggs can be passed to a new host.
Like hookworms, the best treatment for pinworms is prevention. Thoroughly washing the host’s clothes will kill pinworm eggs. Regularly cleaning infected areas is also a good way to prevent further pinworm infestation. Washing hands before meals and after bathroom use will prevent accidental ingestion of pinworm eggs. Finally, those affected by pinworms should not fan or disturb their bed in any way. This could cause the eggs to be released into the air where they can be inhaled.
medication image by palms from Fotolia.com
Even with great sanitation practices, pinworm infestation is still a possibility. Luckily, medications exist to combat pinworms. Both prescription and over-the-counter medications are available. Treatment is very manageable, requiring only two separate treatments, two weeks apart. If symptoms do not clear up or appear worse after the second treatment, patients should contact their doctor immediately.