Pinworms are a type of roundworm that can infect the body. The worms usually enter the body through food and drink that contain the pinworm eggs. The eggs hatch and the worms live inside the intestinal tract and lay more eggs. Females lay the microscopic eggs around the anus and cause extreme itching. Children transmit the infections easily. Medications treat the infestation, but scratching the anal area and poor hygiene may cause a recurrence of the worms. Although the pinworms do not normally cause serious medical problems, severe infections may cause complications.
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Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
A pinworm infestation may cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in females. This is an infection of the lining in the uterus or in the fallopian tubes or ovaries. If the pinworms migrate into the vagina and up into the uterus, the inflammation and infection of the female reproductive system may occur. Some symptoms of this condition include pelvic pain, fever and abnormal vaginal discharge. The pinworms may also cause an infection in the vagina. This infection is called vaginitis. Irritation and itching in the vagina are common with vaginitis. A physician prescribes antibiotics to treat PID and vaginitis.
Urinary Tract Infection
As with the pelvic inflammatory disease caused by migrating pinworms, the worms can enter the urethra and cause an infection in the bladder. This is more common for females than males. Oral antibiotics treat urinary tract infections.
Recurrence of the Infestation
Because the eggs on the anus cause extreme itching, transferring the eggs to the fingernails and hands is possible. Then, without proper hygiene and hand washing, the eggs transfer back to the mouth and cause the infestation again. This cycle can continue indefinitely without good hygiene.
The pinworms are parasites and feed off of the food in the intestines. If a large number of pinworms are living in the intestine, they may ingest most of the food and nutrients the affected individual eats. This loss of nutrients may cause a person with pinworms to lose weight from the lack of nutrition. The pinworms may also cause abdominal pain and decrease the appetite, also causing weight loss.
Dientamoeba Fragilis Infection
Dientamoeba fragilis is a parasite that infects the intestines. Many times, the parasite enters the body through the pinworm eggs. This parasite may cause symptoms such as diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue, abdominal cramping and a decreased appetite. Medications treat this parasite infection.
- Archives of Disease in Childhood: Pelvic Inflammatory Disease Associated with Enterobius vermicularis
- Journal of Medical Case Reports: Enterobius vermicularis in the Male Urinary Tract -- A Case Report
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Parasites -- Enterobiasis (Also Known as Pinworm Infection)