CRDAMC Homepage | CRDAMC Library Phone #: (254) 288-8366 | CRDAMC Library Fax #: (254) 288-8368

Search Health Library

Pinworm

(Enterobiasis, Roundworm)

Definition

Pinworms are common parasites that live in the intestine.

The Intestines
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes    TOP

A specific, small, white worm causes pinworm infection. A separate species, also causing infection, has been reported in England.

Pinworms are visible to the naked eye. They are about the size of a staple, yellow-white in color, and look like a fine piece of thread, which moves actively.

Pinworms are spread by accidentally eating the eggs of the worm, which can be found on infected clothing, bedding, toys, or in the stool of an infected person.

Pinworms are most active at night, 2-3 hours after bedtime. The female worm comes out through the anus and deposits eggs in the perineal area. This area is between the anus and genitals.

Risk Factors    TOP

Pinworms are more common in children 5-14 years old. Other factors that increase your chance of pinworms include:

  • Contact with an infected person—usually a child or family member of the infected child
  • Contact with contaminated clothing, bedding, or objects
  • Regular exposure to schools, daycare centers, and other places where pinworms may be present

Symptoms    TOP

Symptoms may include:

  • Itchy perineal area that is worse at night
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Irritability

Symptoms may be worse at night. While the itching caused by pinworms can be very disturbing, pinworms do not otherwise cause serious medical illness. Many people infected with pinworms have no symptoms.

Diagnosis    TOP

When present, pinworms can frequently be seen in stool or on the skin around the anus. If pinworm infestation is suspected but no worms are seen, then the tape test is often used.

To detect the presence of pinworms, place a piece of clear adhesive tape over the anus, press, and remove. Repeat 2 to 3 times with new tape. Bring adhesive tape samples to the doctor, who will examine them for pinworms. Some laboratories supply special tape or pinworm paddles to use for this test.

The best time to do this test is 2 to 3 hours after bedtime, or before bathing in the early morning.

Treatment    TOP

If treatment is needed, pinworm infections are most commonly treated with prescription medications. Pyrantel pamoate is available as an over-the-counter medication. These medications should be avoided if you are or may become pregnant. Talk to your doctor about therapy if you are or may become pregnant.

You should consult with your doctor to determine the most appropriate treatment. Medication is generally given in 2 or more doses, each separated by 2 weeks. To avoid reinfection, all members of the family should usually be treated.

After Treatment:

  • Change underwear, nightclothes, and sheets after each treatment.
  • Wash all bedding every 3-7 days for 3 weeks.
  • Wash underwear and pajamas daily for 2 weeks.
  • Wash all clothing and toys to destroy remaining eggs.

Prevention    TOP

To help reduce your chance of pinworm infection:

  • Always wash hands thoroughly after using the toilet, changing diapers, and before cooking or eating.
  • Change and wash underwear daily.
  • Bathe shortly after waking up to reduce egg contamination.
  • Discourage nail biting and scratching anal areas.

RESOURCES:

Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
http://www.healthychildren.org
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
http://www.niaid.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

The College of Family Physicians of Canada
http://www.cfpc.ca

References:

Enterobiasis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115562/Enterobiasis. Updated February 15, 2010. Accessed September 14, 2016.
Parasites—enterobiasis (also known as pinworm infection). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated January 10, 2013. Accessed July 25, 2013.
Last reviewed May 2016 by David Horn, MD
Last Updated: 5/11/2013

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at healthlibrarysupport@ebsco.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.

Health Library: Editorial Policy | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions | Support
36000 Darnall Loop Fort Hood, Texas 76544-4752 | Phone: (254) 288-8000