Threadworm-Enterobius vermicularis

Threadworms are the most common helminth (worm) to infect humans. In fact humans are the only host this worm has for reproduction. We ingest their eggs.

The eggs hatch in the stomach and upper gastrointestinal tract and the larvae become mature worms in the small intestines. We can become infected with these worms through various ways;

  • They can be ingested through contaminated water
  • They can be inhaled
  • They can be ingested via chewing of fingernails when they have eggs underneath
  • Infested bedclothes, toys, pyjamas and dust all can be culprits
  • Also retro-infection which means once the eggs have been laid outside the anus, they hatch and go back into the colon.
  • The worms reproduce in the lower ileum or colon and unfortunately for the male worm he dies after mating. The females heads towards the colon and around 30 days later she will appear in the rectum.

After you go to sleep usually 2-3 hours, the female worm comes out of the anus and lays her eggs between the anus and the genitals. She can lay up to 11 000 eggs. Four to six hours later the larvae mature and can be re-ingested via fingers that have scratched their bum and then put in their mouth or the worms themselves crawl back into the anus. They can also be sexually transmitted with anal contact.

How do you know if you have worms?

A good number of people have no symptoms (that is why its important to treat entire family).
An itchy bum is probably the biggest give away. Other signs to look for in case you are asymptomatic; thumb sucking, abdominal pain, weight loss, no appetite, teeth grinding, nightmares, tiredness, emotionally distraught, dermatitis, vulva itching or pain, vulvovaginitis, vaginal discharge, incontinence, urinary tract infections and ovarian/ endometrium issues.

Threadworms have been associated with the parasite dientamoeba fragilis. They have been touted as a carrier. Although this is hotly debated by researchers.

There has also been some research to suggest if you have pin worms you have higher chance of food allergies.

Pin worms have been found in some interesting places for example they can create abdominal pain that presents like appendicitis. Consequently when appendices have been taken out they are infested with pin worms. They have also been found in tonsils when they have been removed.

The best way to check for worms is to get a torch and have a look at your child’s anal area a few hours after they have been asleep. You will see the pinworms making their way out of the anus.

The Gold Standard for assessment is the sticky tape test, This test is best done on waking. before the child has moved around or been to the bathroom. You press clear sticky tape around the vaginal and anal area. Then you hold it up towards the light. You will quite easily see the eggs in the light. That together with the torch test will be enough to treat.

Best practice for treatment of worms is to treat everyone. It is always good to tell your children’s best friends parents so they can treat their families as well to help counter any reinfection.

If you are using over the counter worming tablets it is essential that everyone be treated again in 14 days after the initial dose.

On the day that treatment is given it is also advisable to wash all bedding and soft toys. Cut everyones fingernails and encourage hand washing before eating.

Anyone else bum itchy after reading that.

Need more help around worms?

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