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How Do People Get Pin Worms?

author image Lisa Thompson
Lisa Thompson has been writing since 2008, when she began writing for the Prevention website. She is a holistic health practitioner, nationally certified massage therapist and National Council on Strength and Fitness-certified personal trainer. Thompson also holds certificates in nutrition and herbology from the Natural Healing Institute, as well as a Master of Education from California State University.
How Do People Get Pin Worms?
Three young girls are playing with toys in a car. Photo Credit: Noel Hendrickson/Digital Vision/Getty Images

In her book, "Prescription for Nutritional Healing," Phyllis A. Balch, CNC, states that in the United States the most widespread parasite problem in children is pinworm infestation. Because pinworms are easily spread, it is important to understand how they are transmitted and how to treat them.

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Pinworms are small, white worms that live in the gastrointestinal tract. The main symptom of pinworm infestation is anal itching, especially at night, when pinworms crawl out of the gastrointestinal tract via the anus to lay their eggs. Because of the intense itching, people who are infested often suffer from insomnia and restlessness.

How Pinworms Are Spread

Pinworms are transmitted from one person to another when an infested person touches the area where the eggs or pinworms are present and then touches something else before washing her hands. This is why pinworms are so prevalent in children, as they often scratch the infested area and then pick up a toy or touch a shared surface. When another child touches this surface, he can contract pinworms if he then puts his hands in his mouth or touches his food. Children who suck their thumbs and adults who bite their fingernails are especially susceptible to contracting pinworms.

Treatment and Prevention

The ease with which pinworms are passed from person to person makes it especially difficult to treat while also preventing reinfection. A doctor can prescribe pills to kill the worms and creams to prevent the itching. It is important to follow strict measures in order to prevent contracting the parasite again. All family members may need to be treated so that the worms are not continually passed around. It is also important to alert the school when a child is infested, so that the school can take measures to disinfect shared surfaces and toys. In homes, it is important to disinfect all sheets and towels.

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