Dr. M.J. Bazos, MD. Patient Handout

About Your Diagnosis
Pinworms are an intestinal infestation with a parasite. It is common worldwide. It is frequently found in children between the ages of 5 and 14 years. Crowded living conditions increase the chance of spread to several family members. It is generally more of a nuisance than a major health problem. It is caused by a small worm that finds its way to the intestine to live. The female worm will travel to the anal area to lay eggs. The eggs are spread to others by contact on toilet seats, by hand-to-hand contact, or hand-to-mouth contact. Contact with contaminated clothing or bed linens could also spread them. The infestation is detected by the description of symptoms, and a simple test using a special tape applied over the anal area that is then examined under the microscope for eggs. Pinworms are easily treated with medications.

Living With Your Diagnosis
Signs and symptoms include skin irritation and painful itching around the anal area, especially at night; interruption of sleep because of the itching; and, in females, a vaginal discharge with itching and discomfort if pinworms migrate to the vaginal opening. Complications are rare.

Treatment is with an antiworm medication. All members of the family should be treated at the same time. Directions must be followed carefully. Notify your doctor if anyone is pregnant or has a seizure disorder. The medication must be taken on an empty stomach. Side effects of the medications include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The bowel movements will be the color of the medication. Creams or lotions may be helpful to relieve itching and irritation.

The DOs
• Take the medication as directed by your doctor.
• Teach children good hand washing with soap after toileting and before eating.
• Notify the school nurse or day care if a child is affected.
• Keep fingernails clean and short.
• Shower daily and change underwear and bed linens daily.
• Use very hot water to wash dishes.
• Scrub all washable toys with a bleach solution.
• Scrub toilets thoroughly.
• Maintain a normal diet as tolerated.
• Follow-up with your doctor 2 weeks after treatment to make sure all parasites have been destroyed.

The DON’Ts
• Don’t alter the medication schedule.
• Don’t scratch the anal area.
• Don’t allow other children to play or sleep over until treatment has been completed to prevent spread of the infestation.

When to Call Your Doctor
• If anyone has symptoms of pinworms again after treatment.
• If anyone has side effects from the medications that don’t disappear quickly.

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