Pinworms are the most common worm infection in the United States and are highly contagious. The eggs are found in the air, and when swallowed, live in the colon and intestine of their host while they mature and hatch, a process taking approximately six weeks. Upon hatching, the female crawls to the outside of the rectum or anus, depositing more eggs, causing itching in this area at night. Pinworms are easily treated once diagnosed though, and taking preventive measures is key to avoiding a re-infestation.
Perform Tape Test
This is the first step to curing pinworms. The most common test is the tape test, a process in which a piece of cellophane tape is placed sticky side down, directly on the anus. If eggs have been deposited, they will stick to the tape. You should then take the tape to your doctor so he can place the tape on a glass slide and examine it under a microscope. This test is most effective in the morning before bathing because the eggs are deposited in the anus at night. You need only to leave the tape on for a few seconds.
The most common medication used for the treatment of pinworms is Vermox, a medication available by prescription only. Another prescription medication is Albenza; both are equally effective and are covered by most insurance plans. If you do not have insurance, ask your doctor which medication is least expensive. Keep in mind you will need to treat everyone in the house to ensure a re-infestation does not occur.
Clean Your House
Because pinworms are so contagious, cleaning your home thoroughly is an essential part of the treatment process. You need to begin by washing all clothes and bedding in hot water, typically 54.4 degrees C will kill the worms and their eggs, and then dry everything on high heat. Since pinworm eggs can lay inactive for two weeks at room temperature, it is important to wash all stuffed animals capable of being washed. Those that can't be should be placed in the dryer on high heat to kill the eggs. In addition, you need to mop and vacuum all your floors to rid your home of the remaining eggs. You should vacuum your furniture as well.
Practice Good Hygiene
It doesn't take much to kill pinworm eggs on your hands, the most common transmitters of this condition. To prevent re-infestation, be sure to wash them frequently with an anti-bacterial soap after using the bathroom and whenever you return home from any public area. In addition, if you or your child experience the most common symptom of pinworm, itching around the anus, refrain from placing your hands in that area. This is how the condition spreads the quickest; your child scratches, the eggs get under their fingernails, and they are then spread from one person to the next.