A pinworm is a white, very thin worm about 1⁄4 inch long that moves.  If it doesn’t wiggle it’s probably lint or a thread.  Pinworms are usually seen in the anal and buttock area, especially at night or early in the morning.  Occasionally one is found on the surface of a bowel movement.  More than 10% of children have them.  They do not cause any serious health problems, but they can cause considerable itching and irritation of the anal area and buttocks.

Anti-pinworm Medicine.  If you have definitely seen a pinworm, your child needs to be treated. Treatment of other family members for pinworm.  Children are usually infected by children outside the family.  If anyone else in your family has anal symptoms or anyone sleeps with your child, call our office during regular hours for instructions.  If any of your child’s friends have similar symptoms, be sure to tell their parents to get them tested.  Dogs and cats do not carry pinworms.

Suspicious Symptoms But Pinworm Not Seen  

If your child has itching or irritation of the anal area, she could have pinworms.  Keep in mind that many children get itching in this area just from washing their anal area too vigorously or frequently.  Check your child for pinworms by examining the area around the anus using a flashlight a few hours after your child goes to bed and first thing in the morning for two consecutive nights.  Look for small, thin white worms that move.  If no adult worms are seen, there are testing options that can be done by contact your provider.

Pinworm Exposure or Contact 

If your child has had recent contact with a child who has had pinworms but has no symptoms, your child  probably won’t get them.  Pinworms are harmless and never present very long without causing some anal itching.  If you want to be positive your child doesn’t have them, wait at least one month to allow the swallowed egg to mature.  Then contact your provider for testing options

Prevention of Pinworms 

Infection is caused by swallowing pinworm eggs.  Your children can get pinworms no matter how carefully you keep them and your house clean.  The following hygiene measures, however, can help to reduce the chances of reinfection of your child:

  • Have your child scrub her hands and fingernails before each meal and after each use of the toilet.  Keep the fingernails short, because eggs can collect there.  Thumb sucking and nail biting should be discouraged.
  • Vacuum or wet mop your child’s entire room once every week, because any eggs scattered on the floor are infectious for up to 2 weeks.
  • Machine washing at regular temperature will kill any eggs present in clothing or bedding.

Call our office during regular hours if . . . 

  • The skin around the anus becomes red or tender.
  • The anal itching is not resolved within one week of treatment.
  • You have other questions or concerns.