Intestinal Worms (Oxyuriasis): Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Pinworms, also known as threadworms, are small, white worms measuring approximately 0.5 cm in length. Pinworms are parasites that infect the human digestive system.

Anyone can get them, but they are more common in children. They are found in the rectum, where the female worm migrates to the anus to lay eggs, usually at night.


Pinworms cause anal itching (pruritus ani), particularly at night. This prevents the patient from sleeping, making them tired and irritable. In girls, they can migrate to the vagina, where they their lay eggs, causing irritation and itching in the perineum (vaginal area).

Because of scratching, this condition can make the anus sore, and secondary infection can occur. Stomach pains and diarrhea are sometimes noted.


Threadworms are easily passed on, as the eggs can survive outside of the body for 2 weeks. The eggs can settle on bedding, dust, or other objects around the home.

Children infected with threadworms pass the eggs on to other children when playing. They, then, swallow the eggs, which hatch and quickly grow into adult worms. It is, therefore, crucial that personal hygiene norms are observed to avoid the spread of the worms.


Diagnosis is carried out by observing the worms (white filaments) in your child's stools.

If threadworms are suspected but you can't find any worms in the stool, check your child's bottom at night. Part their buttocks and shine a light inside; the worms may appear as they lay their eggs outside the anus at night.

You can also place a piece of scotch tape over the skin, close to the anus; afterward, place it on a glass slide to be analyzed in a laboratory. This needs to be done first thing in the morning, before wiping the bottom or taking a shower.


All family/household members need to be treated, even those without symptoms. Strict hygiene for everyone must be put into place to prevent reinfection.

An anti-parasitic treatment must be prescribed for all contacts. It includes two doses, given two weeks apart. Itching may continue to persist for about seven days after the beginning of the treatment.

Objects and bedding within the home could be infected, so a deep clean is necessary to eradicate the eggs, which may have settled within the home.

Some other simple measures will avoid a recurrence. They include frequent cleaning of the home; disinfection of the bed linen, clothing, and toys; washing hands regularly, especially before eating and after having been to the bathroom; keeping fingernails short and unbitten.

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