How to recognize and prevent a pinworm infestation

How to recognize and prevent a pinworm infestation
How to recognize and prevent a pinworm infestation

Pinworms, also called nematodes, live in the human body. They are small, white, round parasites that look like little white cotton threads to the naked eye. Pinworms are found all over the world and tend to infect children especially and although they are not dangerous they can be harmful and cause a lot of unpleasant symptoms.


Part 1 of 2: Studying the infestation cycle

Recognize and Prevent a Pinworm Infection Step 1

Step 1. Understand how pinworms are spread

Pinworms can affect everyone, young and old. Its mode of transmission is the faecal oral route. They are passed from person to person by ingesting pinworm eggs through contaminated fingers, bedding, clothing, and other objects. For example, a child infected with pinworms may scratch their rectum and wear eggs on their fingers or under their fingernails, then pass them on to an object or another person, or even re-infect themselves.

Recognize and Prevent a Pinworm Infection Step 2

Step 2. Assess the risks

As you can guess, the more you hang out with people who have poor personal hygiene, the more risk you are put at.

  • The high risk group: children of school or preschool age, people in internships or in institutional residences, as well as families, family members and nursing staff from these two groups constitute the high risk group. Children's hands go everywhere and sometimes they don't think about washing them regularly. Children also like to put their fingers and hands in their mouths, touch toys, tables and also touch each other and even wipe their hands on their clothes, etc. This is also true for interned persons. For these two groups, their environment constitutes the petri dish of pinworms.
  • The moderate risk group: As you can deduce by considering the high risk group, people who are in contact with those in the high risk group constitute the moderate risk group. If you are in this group, there is nothing else you can do except follow the standard rules of hygiene. You can't avoid people because they have intestinal worms, but all you can do is take care of your health to the best of your ability.
  • The low risk group: it is mainly about everyone. Adults who have little or no contact with people in the high risk group or limited contact with those in the moderate risk group are in the low risk group for pinworm infestation.
Recognize and Prevent a Pinworm Infection Step 3

Step 3. Know the cycle of pinworm infestation

After the pinworms have been ingested, there is an incubation period ranging from one to two months or more for the adult pregnant females to reach maturity in the small intestine.

  • Once they reach maturity, the female parasites move to the colon and lay eggs around the anus overnight, when their hosts are sleeping. As soon as they finish laying the eggs, they use a "glue" that sticks the eggs to the anus and it is this substance that triggers the itching sensation there.
  • This is the reason why the itching is often more increased at night: the parasites move to the area around the rectum to lay eggs.
Recognize and Prevent a Pinworm Infection Step 4

Step 4. Understand how pinworms are spread

Scratching the itchy area promotes contamination of the fingers with pinworm eggs. From the fingers, the eggs can be transmitted to the mouth or other mucous membranes.

This hand-to-mouth transmission can also be done indirectly. Eggs can be deposited in other places such as on clothing or furniture, where they can live for two to three weeks and be carried by the hands of other people, who will eventually put them in their mouths without washing them

Recognize and Prevent a Pinworm Infection Step 5

Step 5. Watch for signs of infestation

In addition to the visible irritation that is seen around the rectal area, a person may have a pinworm infestation without showing any symptoms. However, the symptoms that sometimes appear are as follows:

  • restlessness, trouble sleeping (especially if you didn't have these problems before)
  • enuresis
  • irritability (such as teeth grinding)
  • white discharge in women
  • bacterial skin infections
Recognize and Prevent a Pinworm Infection Step 6

Step 6. Look for obvious signs of the presence of worms

If you see any of these symptoms, there are several ways you can check for worms with the naked eye.

  • You can check for worms in the anus (rectal area), especially if you do this two to three hours after the infected person has fallen asleep. Use a torch to see more clearly.
  • You can also look for worms in a person's stool. Watch for worms in the stool. They are very small worms, about 5-10mm long. They often look like thin white threads.
  • They can also be found on children's underpants in the morning.
Recognize and Prevent a Pinworm Infection Step 7

Step 7. Take a sample from the infected area

If you suspect a pinworm infestation, your doctor may ask you to place a small piece of tape on the rectum, so that the pinworms adhere to it. Your doctor will then examine this strip and can identify pinworm eggs through the microscope.

  • The doctor may also take samples from under the fingernails of the infected person and examine them.
  • You can use the pinworm wand. This spoon-shaped device literally “scoops” the infested area and then put the end of the stick back into a plastic tube.

Part 2 of 2: Prevent Pinworm Infestation

Recognize and Prevent a Pinworm Infection Step 8

Step 1. Practice and teach proper hand washing techniques

The best way to prevent worm infestation begins by washing your hands. Your hands are the part of your body that tends to carry pinworm eggs the most, so if you keep them clean, you will eliminate these eggs. Make sure you and your family wash your hands before eating or handling food, after using the toilet, and also after changing the baby's diaper. You can read the article washing your hands.

  • Use lukewarm water and mild soap and rub your hands vigorously for 30 seconds. Mentally hum the "happy birthday" song or the "alphabet, ABC" song twice.
  • Wash your hands before, during, and after coming into contact with friends, family members or colleagues, etc. interned or living in institutions.
  • Avoid putting your hands in your mouth when you are in a school, boarding school, or institutional residence.
  • Remember to wash your hands after coming into contact with children undergoing treatment for pinworms.
Recognize and Prevent a Pinworm Infection Step 9

Step 2. Keep your nails clean and short

Avoid biting your fingernails. Remember, this is the preferred area for pinworm eggs. If you have been in contact with these eggs or have scratched an area where they were (such as clothes, skin), it means that they are hidden under your fingernails.

  • Do not trim the nails very short, for fear of causing further problems to yourself and those close to you.
  • Always be sure to clean your fingernails thoroughly when washing your hands or while bathing. Keeping these places clean should become a daily habit.
Recognize and Prevent a Pinworm Infection Step 10

Step 3. Avoid scratching the area around the anus

Wear well-fitting pajamas for your children, as well as boxer shorts and mittens. This will prevent them from carrying the worms while scratching at night.

Each family member should shower or bathe in the morning and change their underwear every day (showering is best to avoid contaminated bath water). During the treatment, a shower should be taken in the morning and in the evening to eliminate the eggs laid during the night

Recognize and Prevent a Pinworm Infection Step 11

Step 4. Avoid eating in the bedroom

This method increases the risk of coming into contact with pinworm eggs.

Recognize and Prevent a Pinworm Infection Step 12

Step 5. Use hot water and set your dryer to a high temperature

For all bedding, towels, and clothing that you think has come into contact with infested items, you should use hot water. In fact, to apply the prevention methods, wash EVERYTHING in hot water. Just pay attention to the mixture of colors.

Use caution when handling bedding, towels, and clothing of an infected person (or suspected of being). Avoid shaking them too much and wash these items (underwear, bed linens, pajamas, and towels) separately

Recognize and Prevent a Pinworm Infection Step 13

Step 6. Let the rooms of the house bathe in the clarity of light

Keep draperies and curtains in direct light throughout the day, as pinworm eggs are sensitive to sunlight.


  • Pinworm infestation is not a sign of uncleanliness. Pinworms can be prevented by applying hygiene measures, but their presence is not always due to poor hygiene in a household or person.
  • Get into the habit of wearing white underwear and wash it regularly.
  • In nurseries or schools where the infestation has spread, all infected people should be treated at the same time. The treatment should be repeated after two weeks.
  • Treatment consists of two doses of prescription or over-the-counter medication, the second dose of which should be taken two weeks after the first.
  • If further re-infestations occur after treatment, steps should be taken to identify the source of the infestation. School mates, family members or caregivers may be possible sources.
  • Re-infestations often occur. Therefore, all family members should take treatment if one of them has been diagnosed with infestation.
  • Pinworm eggs are rarely found in stool or urine samples.
  • Use Lysol's soap solution or any antibacterial wipe rather than the mops to wipe down toilets, sinks and other bathroom surfaces.
  • Always seek the advice of a healthcare professional before treating a suspected case of pinworm infestation.
  • Transmission of pinworm eggs is common in the following places or objects:

    • bed linens, towels, underwear and pajamas
    • toilets and sanitary facilities
    • food, cooking utensils, glasses and kitchen counters
    • play toys and sandboxes
    • school canteen tables-benches


  • Pinworm infestation often occurs in more than one family member or person in an institutional residence at a time.
  • Multiple pinworm infestations frequently occur in child care centers.
  • Just because you belong to a certain risk group doesn't mean you will or will not get a pinworm infestation.

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