The thought that your child might have a parasitic infection can be distressing, but there are effective treatments available to help your child feel well again. Pinworm infections are among the most common types of parasitic infections, and they are particularly prevalent among school-aged children. If you suspect that your child might have an infection, take him or her to an emergency pediatrician for an accurate diagnosis. A pediatrician’s recommendations will include treating the whole family for pinworms, just in case.
Signs and Symptoms
It’s possible for pinworm infections not to cause any symptoms at all. When symptoms do occur, they generally include persistent itching of the anal or vaginal area. This discomfort may lead to restless sleep and skin irritation. Some patients may develop periodic abdominal pain or nausea.
Causes and Risk Factors
Pinworm infections are transmitted by inhaling or swallowing the pinworm eggs. Within a few weeks, the eggs will hatch and become adult pinworms. The anal itching occurs when the female pinworms lay their eggs in this area. Pinworm eggs are readily spread indirectly. A person might scratch, get the eggs under the fingernails, and then touch other objects. It’s possible for the eggs to survive for two to three weeks on various surfaces. Young children attending daycare or school, and families who live in crowded homes are generally at a higher risk of pinworm infections, although anyone can become infected.
Pinworm infections are treatable with anti-parasite medications. Since the microscopic pinworm eggs are easily spread, the emergency pediatrician will recommend treatment for everyone in the household. Usually, two doses are needed to clear up the infection. Since pinworm eggs can live for quite a long time on surfaces, you’ll also need to take the following steps:
- Launder all bedding, towels, and clothing in hot water.
- Vacuum all carpeted areas thoroughly and frequently.
- Clean underneath the fingernails.
- Stop children from biting their nails and scratching their backsides.
- Require daily showering and daily underwear changes.
If your child is experiencing distress and your regular pediatrician is unavailable, you can count on the team at Pediatrics After Hours. No appointment is necessary, but you can reach us at 972-355-2273. At our four urgent care facilities in the DFW area, you’ll find compassionate providers and onsite diagnostic capabilities.