Pinworms (Child)

Pinworms are parasites. They are tiny white worms, about 1/2 inch long. Pinworm infection happens when a pinworm egg or adult pinworm is swallowed. Pinworms then travel down the digestive tract to the rectum, where they stay. The infection is most common in children younger than 10 years old.

A child with a pinworm infection will have intense itching around the anus (rectal opening). The itching is worst at night when pinworms come out of the rectum and lay eggs around the anus.

An infected child may pass the infection onto others. Pinworms may travel from person to person on hands or things like clothing, towels, toilet seats, or bedding.

The infection is treated with 2 doses of medicine taken 2 weeks apart. All family members should be treated at once, even those who don't have symptoms. This is to help make reinfection less likely. Pregnant women should talk to their healthcare provider before taking this medicine.

Home care

  • Wash sheets, bedding, towels, underwear, and pajamas in hot water then dry them on high heat. This helps kill the eggs.

  • Parents and others in the household should wash their hands frequently with soap and hot water. This is particularly important after using the restroom, before preparing meals, after eating, after touching household cats or dogs, and after changing or bathing the child with the infection.

  • Trim your child's nails and clean them each morning until the anal itching stops. Try to prevent nail biting.

  • Teach your child to wash their hands before eating and after using the toilet.

  • Have your child put on a clean pair of underwear every day.

  • Help your child bathe every morning to reduce the number of eggs on the anal area.

  • Let as much sunlight into your child's room and your home as possible. The pinworm eggs are sensitive to sunlight.

  • Be sure to change the child's bedding, nightclothes, and underwear after the second dose of medicine.

  • Scrub floors, toys, countertops, and other household surfaces. Vacuum carpets.

  • Encourage your child's sitter or child-care provider to wash the toys often. This is important if pinworms have been found in other children.

Follow-up care

Follow up with the child's healthcare provider as advised to be sure the infection has cleared.

When to seek medical advice

Call the child's healthcare provider for any of the following:

  • Belly (abdominal) pain

  • Increasing redness, drainage of fluid, or crusty scabs around the anus

  • Continued itching around the anus after finishing the second dose of the medicine

  • Symptoms get worse or your child has new symptoms

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