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Small children are prone to several kinds of infections from the time they start crawling. However, hard you try, it’s quite tedious to prevent most of them and the key to good health is hygiene. Let’s look at one such infection which is very common among babies and small children—Pinworms.
What Is Pinworm Infection?
Pinworms are small, white worms that infest only in human intestines. They look like quarter-inch pieces of dental floss, living in the digestive tract and wriggling in the anus and in baby’s stools. In fact, pinworms can easily infest the vagina of females. Once they infect one member of the family, they easily spread to the other, even parents. Therefore, if your child has pinworms you must be very careful and ensure it doesn’t spread to others through used objects like toys and towels.
What Causes Pinworms?
Normally, infants who are not crawling and are solely on breast milk are at zero risk of ingesting pinworms and their eggs. How then do they and other small children contract this infection?
- Babies can inhale the eggs in rare cases when you dust clothes, bed sheets, towels and blankets and the eggs attached on them are released in the air
- Another way babies can contract the infection is from a school going sibling. The pinworm eggs survive for as long as two weeks. Therefore it’s very important that kids must wash their hands immediately after they get back from school
- The eggs could remain on the surfaces of toys, towels and surfaces of objects that kids normally touch. If these have been touched by another child in the house having pinworm, they contract the infection. Because children normally have the tendency to touch objects and put their fingers in the mouth. That’s the easiest route for the infection to spread
- When children with pinworms scratch their bottom, the eggs get under the fingernail. Another cycle begins when he/she puts his finger in the mouth
Once the kids inhale or contract the eggs, the eggs travel down the intestines and hatch there. The female pinworms travel to the anal region to hatch eggs. This movement causes intense irritation and sleep disturbance in kids.
Pinworm Infection Symptoms:
Let’s take a look at some of the most common symptoms of pinworm infection in children and whether it is possible to prevent it.
- The first and the most common symptom is itching in the anus, particularly at night. For those too small to talk, irritation and fussiness, disturbed sleep without any reason can be an indication
- Small girls might complain of itching in the area around the vagina. In fact, it could cause vaginal discharge and severe itching could lead to a bacterial infection. They can even experience incontinence of urine because pinworms over time could cause inflammation of the urethra
- Babies might experience pain and discomfort in the gut region and may refuse to eat
- Pain in the belly, close to the navel region is another symptom to watch out for
- The child might get tired easily or could be annoyed for no reason. The face could become pale with bluish circles around the eyes in extreme cases
- When there too many pinworms in the gut region, it could cause nausea and vomiting. In fact, in extreme rare cases, pinworms could block the appendix and could cause appendicitis
- In extreme cases, when there is a bigger colony of pinworms infesting the little body, it could attack the nervous system. Such children become more annoyed, can’t sleep well, get tired more easily and are generally less attentive and therefore behind in studies. In such cases, you must consult your doctor and get started on the treatment at once
How to Check Pinworms/Pinworm Infection Tests?
The easiest way is to hold a flashlight in the anal region early in the morning since pinworms lay eggs mostly at night. Sometimes, they are visible on the vaginal tip or in the child’s stools. Another method is the scotch tape test, where you can stick a transparent tape to the anus whereby the eggs stick to the tape. This can then be examined by the doctor for confirmation.
Not every instance of itchiness in the anal region a symptom of pinworm infection. Make sure you consult your pediatrician before getting into self-medication.
Pinworm Infection Treatment:
Treatment for pinworm infection depends on the level of the infection and therefore varies from child to child. Doctors normally prescribe OTC medications like Mebendazole or Pyrantel for the whole family to kill the worms. After two weeks your doctor may ask you to repeat the dosage so that the new worms that might have hatched during this period are also eliminated. Once both are done you may still notice some worms in your baby’s stool which is nothing to panic about because the worms are leaving the body.
Pinworm Infection Home Remedies:
This is the most important step and is more important that the actual treatment. This must be followed by all members of the family and not just the baby or the infected person.
- Nails should always be trimmed short. Children should not be allowed to bite nails or scratch bottoms often. If it persists, consult a doctor immediately
- Children’s underwear must be washed both in the morning as well as in the evening and must be ironed before use. That’s because in case the worms are left even after washing the underwear are killed by hot iron
- Hands must be washed everytime after using the toilet and before eating meals
- Lavatory bowels must be washed regularly with detergent sanitizers; toilet seats must be kept clean
- Sponge bath the baby every morning to remove the eggs, if any
- Though tedious, washable toys must be washed regularly
- As far as possible prevent children from using swimming pools that are not cleaned and maintained regularly
- If you have pets, you have to keep them clean too
Children always go out, play in the mud and put things in the mouth; it’s a part of growing up. And this also becomes a cause for several infections. As parents we have to be careful to keep them safe without compromising on the fun times. Take care and stay safe.
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