How bad could the Pinworms get?

Last updated date: 25-Feb-2022

CloudHospital

13 mins read

What is the Pinworm?

The pinworm is a nematode, which is medically referred to as Enterobius vermicularis. It is a roundworm that is characterized by being small, thin, and white. The length of a pinworm is normally comparable to the length of a staple. The longest pinworms could measure approximately a half-inch.

Although it is medically known as Enterobius vermicularis, the worm has been commonly named pinworm, as the tales of the female worm resembles a pin. 

 

What is the infection with Pinworms?

The pinworm infection is considered to be the most frequent type of infection of the human intestines. Moreover, infection with pinworms is also the most usual type of worm infection worldwide.

The infection with pinworms is usually associated with children between the ages of 5 and 10 and with persons who live in institutions or who are frequently exposed to these very institutions.

 

How are Pinworms transmitted?

The dimensions of the pinworms are making them impossible to detect and they could infect various surfaces to which you might be exposed.

The transmission of pinworms happens easily among the persons who live in swarming establishments, therefore pinworm infection is common among families with young children.

The spread of pinworm infection starts from the so-called fecal-oral path. In other words, the pinworm eggs could be transmitted from a person’s anus to another’s mouth. Though it is hard to imagine something like this, it is pretty easy to happen, as it is not necessary to transmit them directly, by hand through poor hygiene (e.g. not washing your hands after using the restroom). Pinworms’ eggs could be easily transmitted from a person to another through infected bedding, food, bedding, or any other objects that are daily used.

It is thought that while the infected person is sleeping, the pinworms carry out the eggs and deposit them on the skin layer around the anus. The eggs of the pinworms are ready to commence an infection in just a couple of hours after they have been placed outside the intestine. Furthermore, the pinworm eggs are real survivors, as they can live for as long as three weeks on the anus’ skin or any other infected articles or objects.

In most cases, the persons get infected unconsciously. The eggs could easily reach for the next victim’s fingers, for example, or mouth directly, via contaminated clothing or bedding.

The considerably small dimensions of the pinworm eggs allow them to become airborne, in some situations, too. The pinworm eggs could be assimilated from the most unexpected places of your body, or any other objects or surfaces. 

Furthermore, if your child presents the symptoms of pinworm infection or if he or she has already been diagnosed with this type of infection, you are very likely to be infected, as well.

People usually presume that pools are the greatest outbreaks of pinworm eggs. You must be informed that this information is not totally accurate. Of course, there are many people who swim during a tight timeframe, and the chances of infecting the water are great. But, to contract those very pinworm eggs that another person left in the water, you need to touch the very same water particles through which the infected person swam. The odds for doing so are pretty small, taking into consideration that the water within a swimming pool needs to be recirculated. So, there is a slight possibility of being infected with pinworms when you come home from a swimming pool, but the chances are very low.

Also, your pets are not able to infect you with pinworms. Pinworms are specific to humans. Pets are not suitable hosts for pinworms.

 

Who is at risk of getting infected with Pinworms?

Anybody can get infected with pinworms. As we have already highlighted, the transmission of pinworm eggs is very likely to occur, especially in crowded households with children. 

The effortless transmission makes the pinworm infection the most spread type of worm infection across the world and throughout all socio-economic layers.

Nevertheless, some categories of people are more likely than others to contract the pinworm eggs. These categories consist of:

  • Children, especially those who go to school;
  • Children who put their fingers constantly into their mouths;
  • Children and adults, as well, who are not practicing correct hygiene of the hands; for example, those who eat without washing their hands are very susceptible of getting infected;
  • Adults and other family members who are in close contact with the infected child;
  • Persons who are institutionalized.

 

Pinworm Symptoms

The symptoms of the infection with pinworms could feel different from a person to another. Some persons who get infected with these worms could not present any relatable symptoms. 

The symptoms that are associated with pinworm infection are, normally, mild and they are ignited by the female pinworm, which lays her eggs.

So, you could start suspecting the pinworms, if either you or your child present the following symptoms, which are specific to this type of infection:

  • Intense discomfort around the anus;
  • Inability to sleep due to the discomfort from the anal area;
  • Fierce itching and skin irritation surrounding the anus;
  • The occurrence of pinworms in stool.

 

Pinworm Complications

Though pinworm infection is usually associated with mild symptoms, and, in some cases with the inexistence of symptoms, it could lead, sometimes, to some more serious health complications. Bear in mind that health complications that could arise after pinworm infection are rare, but nevertheless possible.

In very rare situations, infection with pinworms could lead to a urinary tract infection in women, but only if the pinworm infection is left untreated.

Another possible risk for women who experience pinworm infection is that the worms themselves could get from the anus into the vagina, and they seriously damage the uterus, fallopian tubes or other organs from the feminine genital system. So, for women, pinworm infection could lead to vaginal infection (vaginitis), or to inflammation of the uterus lining.

In case the pinworms start to significantly multiply within your body, you could start to feel intense abdominal pain.

Also, the increased number of pinworms could make you lose weight, as they can steal most of your body’s nutrients.

 

Pinworm Diagnosis

The doctor would suspect the pinworm infection, based mainly on the intense itching at night around the anus.

Besides noticing pinworms in stool, the diagnosis of pinworm infection consists of detecting the pinworm eggs, as well.These could be spotted on the underwear or other clothes that have direct contact with the posterior’s skin.

The procedure of detecting pinworm eggs is referred to as the “tape test”. When the suspected person of being infected with pinworms wakes up, immediately the test must commence. The reason for which it is very important to perform the test as soon as the person wakes up in the morning is that any activity, such as showering, going to the toilet, or even changing the clothes could remove all the existing eggs from the perineal area, and the results of the test might infirm the infection.

This specific test consists of gently applying the sticky part of a transparent scotch on the skin that surrounds the anus. The existing pinworm eggs, if any, are supposed to get attached to the scotch.

To improve the accuracy of the “tape test” the suspected person of infection, whether you or your child, should perform this test for 3 consecutive mornings.

Due to the intense itching in the anal area that leads to scratching, it could be useful to gather samples for the “tape test” from underneath the fingernails.

Sometimes, the pinworm eggs could be detected in urine or stool samples as well.

 

Pinworm Treatment

The treatment of pinworm infection requires a visit to your doctor, as you need an advised opinion about it.

Depending on the severity of your pinworm infection, it could be treated with either over-the-counter medicines or prescription medicines.

The treatment of pinworm infection consists of 2 to even 3 (in severe cases) doses of medication, which has the purpose of cleansing your intestine. The second and the third doses are supposed to be administered at a week’s distance from the previous dose.

As the transmission of pinworm eggs is very easily possible, it is mandatory for all the members of the household and those who are in close contact to start the treatment, as well. 

Unconsciously, other members could also be infected, and treating just the initial patient of the household could prove ineffective and reinfection could occur. So, it is essential, during the treatment of pinworm infection, to maintain a very high level of hygiene, which would include handwashing, clean and short fingernails. This period also consists of preventive behavior, such as avoiding scratching the anus area or nail-biting.

Treatment of pinworm infection also includes the frequent change of underwear, which represents the removal of many pinworm eggs.

It is also important to shower instead of taking baths. While taking a bath, the risk of reinfection with the very pinworm eggs that have been laid off on your anal area could represent the catalyst of reinfection.

Another piece of advice is to cautiously manipulate all the clothing articles, objects, or surfaces with which you have contact during the treatment. Furthermore, all of the clothes, underwear, or beddings need to be washed in hot water, especially after the intake of a specific pinworm infection medicine.

 

Pinworm Medicine

After you have noticed pinworms in poop and you have discussed it with your doctor, you will most probably try some oral medicines, to get rid of the infection and the associated symptoms. The medicines that are known to be most effective for dealing with pinworm infection are anthelmintics such as:

  • Vermox – Mebendazole;
  • Albenza – albendazole;
  • Reese’s pinworm medicine – pyrantel pamoate.

The treatment of pinworm infection consists of taking 2 to 3 doses of the medicine. Each dose is supposed to be intaken at a week's distance from the previous one.

 

Home remedies for Pinworms

Medical treatment might not be the one and only way to fight against pinworm infections. Though there have not been enough studies to confirm or infirm the hypothesis of treating pinworm infection with home remedies, some believe that these methods could prove to be effective.

Even though you should not replace the treatment plan offered by your healthcare professional with home remedies, you could try alongside medication, raw garlic, raw carrots, or coconut oil to help eradicate the pinworms from the intestines.

Also, you have to be truly aware that the same home remedy might have a different result from an individual to another. So, if someone highly recommends a method for dealing with pinworms, it might not work for you. Moreover, you should avoid home remedies, if you suffer from allergies. The ingredients might stimulate an allergic reaction that could make you suffer more than from the pinworm infection. If you just don’t know if you have any allergies to the ingredients of the home remedies, you could apply just a little bit of the solution that you are going to prepare, on your skin beforehand. If you spot any allergic reaction, abort the home remedy solution.

The home remedy based on raw garlic is believed to destroy all the eggs and to prevent, as well, the female pinworm from laying other eggs on the skin around the anus. 

The raw garlic could be prepared, treat pinworm infection, either for being ingested or being applied on the skin, as an ointment. To prepare raw garlic for being ingested, you have to dice it and spread it on bread. Also, you can consume the raw garlic by itself, directly. 

But, if you want to treat the pinworm infection with raw garlic ointment, you have to chop the garlic and grind it into paste form. In other words, you will create mashed garlic. The garlic paste needs, also, to be combined with petroleum jelly. Further, you would have to plunge a cotton swab right into the paste. Then, use the cotton swab to gently apply the garlic paste on the skin that surrounds the anus. 

If the skin around your anus is sensitive, or another inflammation, or if you also suffer from hemorrhoids, this treatment is definitely not recommended for you.

Coconut oil alone could improve the situation if you suffer from pinworm infections. In order to treat the pinworm infection with coconut oil, you will have to swallow daily, during the morning about 0.33 ml and also apply softly, in the evening, some coconut oil around the anus.

People who prefer treating pinworm infections with natural ingredients, also consider raw carrots a good way to eliminate pinworms from the digestive system. Normally, foods that are rich in fiber are supposed to improve digestion and stimulate the movement of the bowel, so eating carrots at least twice per day should help you eliminate pinworms.

 

Prevention of Pinworm infection

Though pinworm eggs are easy to contract, as they can exist on various surfaces and, sometimes, they can even get airborne, the infection could still be prevented.

As the pinworm eggs could survive for about 3 weeks on a surface, before finding a new host, it is truly important to regularly clean the surfaces which are used daily. You should, actually, establish a new cleaning routine for your house, surfaces, clothes, and other objects.

Therefore, you should:

  • Clean during the morning, as the pinworms are known for laying their eggs during the night, on the anal area of the infected person. So, first thing in the morning, to certainly reduce the number of pinworm eggs from your body, you need to wash yourself or the patient. A very good tip is to prefer showering to bathe, as, during bathing, chances are you will get reinfected.
  • Change your bedding and underwear daily.
  • Launder all of your clothes, bedsheets, pajamas, underwear, or towels using hot water. After laundering, dry all of the articles in intense heat. This procedure should eliminate most of the pinworm eggs.
  • Avoid scratching the anal area, as that is the area where pinworm eggs are laying on. Also, you can trim your fingernails/ the fingernails of your child, in order to decrease the chances of pinworm eggs underneath them.
  • Avoid biting the fingernails or simply putting the hand to your mouth.
  • Wash your hands often. Washing hands after using the toilet or changing your child’s diaper could prevent you from contracting the pinworm eggs. Also, always wash your hands before eating.

 

Can Pinworm reinfection occur?

As you have already found out in this article, the transmission of pinworm eggs, respectively the pinworm infection, is very simple.In case that you and your family are certainly practicing an efficient hygiene routine and the reinfection with pinworms keeps on appearing, again and again, it could mean only 3 things:

  • The initial source of pinworm infection has not been effectively treated and the treatment should be applied again;
  • The real source of infection has not been actually identified and treated;
  • The eggs that have been laid on the skin around the anus could grow into pinworm larvae and they could infect again the intestine from which they have basically come.

So, in case that you and your family and those in close contact with you restart the medical treatment for pinworm eggs, and it is still ineffective, it means that there is an infected surface or an infected person of whom you are not thinking of as the infection’s source. Search thoroughly and you will most probably identify the cause of reinfection.

 

Conclusion

Pinworms are small, white, and thin roundworms that live in the intestines of their human hosts. Their length is comparable to the length of a staple and the name comes from the female worm’s tail, which looks similar to a pin.

The transmission of pinworm eggs is based on the anus to mouth route. Though it is very difficult to imagine that small eggs, viruses, or microbes from the anus could reach the mouth of another person, it actually happens, both directly and indirectly. Pinworm eggs are minuscule and the only way they can be seen is by using a microscope.

The facile transmission of pinworm eggs makes infection easy to suffer from. The pinworm eggs could be involuntarily aspirated by anyone, anywhere.

Diagnosing pinworm infection requires performing the “tape test” which represents, actually, applying a band of transparent scotch on the skin that surrounds the anus, whose purpose is to stick most of the pinworm eggs, if any existing, and to put them under the microscope.

The infection with pinworms requires medical treatment and paying special attention to not only the personal hygiene routine but to the hygiene routine of all the household members and to the cleaning process of all the objects, clothes, surfaces that are used.

The medical treatment consists of some specific medicines, and they are supposed to be consumed once per week, for a maximum of 3 weeks. These medicines have the purpose of cleansing your intestines.

If left untreated, pinworm infection could lead to some complications, which could affect predominantly women.

Although not painful and not usually leading to other health complications, the pinworm infection is rather more bothersome than dangerous.

Articles

Other Articles