According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, pinworm infections are the result of a type of roundworm known as Enterobius vermicularis. These pathogens reside in the lower intestinal tract. However, the females exit the rectum and lay their eggs within the folds of skin around the anus. Any contact with the eggs can cause them to adhere to your skin, where they can easily be passed from one person to the next. This is why pinworm outbreaks commonly affect school-aged children and their families.
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While not everyone manifests symptoms of a pinworm infection, it isn't uncommon to experience some itching around the anus or vagina, according to MayoClinic.com. And because the female lays her eggs while her host sleeps, this discomfort can often disrupt a child's sleep. Your child might also complain about abdominal pain and nausea while suffering from a pinworm infection.
To relieve the discomfort associated with pinworms, medical professionals prescribe soothing ointments or creams, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. These creams typically contain topical antihistamines, topical anesthetics or topical corticosteroids to lessen the skin inflammation, subsequent irritation and itching sensation. These creams are used for a week or so during the course of treatment.
Treatment for pinworms revolves around an "anti-worm" medication, reports KidsHealth.com. The most common anti-parasite medications are mebendazole, albendazole and pyrantel. These drugs are taken in two separate doses. The first is given immediately upon diagnosis and the second is given two weeks later. But your child isn't the only member of your family needing to take these medications. Everyone in your household should take the prescription at the same time to help prevent reinfection.
Though self-care alone won't cure a pinworm infection, getting everyone in the family to maintain proper handwashing techniques is a critical element of prevention, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Family members should also keep their fingernails clean and short as well as avoid placing their hands in their mouth. Scratching the anal or vaginal area should be avoided as well.
During an infection and treatment of pinworms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends showering over bathing because you're more likely to contaminate yourself with dirty bathwater. Towels, undergarments, pajamas and even bedding should be washed between uses to minimize recurrent infections.