Pinworms (Enterobius) are the most common type of intestinal worm in the United States, and one of the most common types in the world. It is usually seen in children 5 through 10 years of age but can be seen in adults as well. Crowded conditions such as schools and kindergartens can spread this worm. The microscopic pinworm egg is swallowed when food, water, toys, or fingers are contaminated. It hatches into a slender white worm ¼ to ½ an inch long in the digestive system. The female pinworm exits through the anus to lay more eggs on the skin just outside the anus. The skin can itch, leading to irritation, scratching, and restlessness. Some patients have abdominal pain and nausea, although most patients do not have these symptoms. Serious complications are rare, but the parasites occasionally cause infections within the abdomen outside the intestines, urinary tract infections, uterine infections, and loss of weight.
Prevention begins with handwashing. Patients’ pajamas, sheets, towels, and washcloths should be washed in hot water and dried with hot air. Towels should not be shared. Showers are preferable to baths.
- Emverm (mebendazole) is available by prescription. Two 100 mg tablets are chewed and swallowed three times a day for three days. It works by preventing worms from absorbing sugar, resulting in their starving to death.
- Albenza (albendazole) is available by prescription. Two 200 mg tablets are taken once, to be repeated after two weeks.
Did you know? QuickMD can treat pinworm in the comfort and convenience of your own home. Physicians can prescribe albendazole online or other anti-parasitic medications whenever medically necessary and safe to do so.