Pinworms are the most common parasitic infection in the United States. Every year more than 40 million people - mostly children from 5 to 10 years old - are infected with pinworms. Pinworms usually live in the colon. They are the size of a staple and white in color. At night, female pinworms leave the colon and lay eggs around the anus. Eggs are very small and can survive on bedding, underwear and anywhere else for a period of up to two weeks. The main symptom of pinworm infection is itching around the anus.
It is easy to treat pinworms. After your doctor confirms that you or your child have pinworm infection, she will prescribe an appropriate medication. There are several medications available, the most popular being albendazole (with the brand name Albenza) and mebendazole (under the brand name Vermox). Another possibility is pyrantel (the brand name Pin-X, Pin-Rid). All medications are taken for two weeks in order to prevent re-infestation with any surviving eggs.
In order to treat pinworms effectively, all members of your family should take the medication even if they don't have symptoms. The most common way of getting pinworms is through poor hygiene and from contaminated surfaces, though eggs may also be inhaled. When children scratch their rear ends because of the itching caused by pinworms, eggs get under their nails. Children easily pass eggs around while playing in school, get reinfected by biting their nails, and leave eggs around by touching things. This is why it's so important to complete the entire course of medication.
Even if you treat pinworms successfully you will need to wash all bedding at least twice a week, wash underwear and nightwear daily, and clean stuffed toys while your family is taking the medication. This needs to be done for the entire two weeks. Wash your hands after using the bathroom and before eating. Make sure your kids are washing their hands as well, and keep their nails short. Since nail biting may cause reinfection, teach your children not to bite their nails.
After pinworms have been treated it is important to prevent further infections. In order to do so you need to practice good hand hygiene and teach your children to do the same. Washing hands is the best method to prevent pinworm infection. Taking a shower in the morning helps to eliminate any pinworm eggs around the anus, thus helping to minimize the probability of reinfection. Change your children's underwear daily and be sure to wash all bedding, nightwear and underwear with hot water and mop or vacuum the floors daily until you are certain the infestation has been successfully treated.