The worm which contaminates part of the intestines and areas around the anus is called pinworm. This type of worm is very small, white, round, and with a length of about 3-5 mm (millimeters). The intestinal parasite that lives only in humans is widespread and causes the medical condition known as pinworm infection or enterobiasis, but which is not very dangerous. Each year, only in U.S., there are about 30-40 million cases of people infected with pinworms.

     Young children, between 3 and 12 years are more likely to develop this infection, but it may be infected with pinworms and individuals of any age or socioeconomic status. It is well known that adults are less likely to have a pinworm infection, except for mothers who have an infected child. During sleep, the female parasites move from the intestines through the anus by applying her eggs on the skin around the area. Infection with pinworms can spread easily from person to person.

     Pinworm life cycle begins with an accidental introduction (involuntary) in mouth (by ingestion, swallowing) of a small egg (seen only under a microscope) of the fingers or other contaminated areas. Usually, larvae hatch in the small intestine, and after being moistened by acid in the stomach, it travels toward the intestine and toward the appendix, where they continue to develop.

Symptoms of pinworm infection

     Like any other type of infection, pinworm infection produces different signs and symptoms that vary in intensity, and go from weak forms to more serious ones. The most common manifestations of this disease are felt by most medical patients, but, however, some individuals may feel some unique signs and symptoms. The most common symptom of this infection is the itching sensation between the legs and around the anus region. Besides itching, pinworm infection does not cause any serious danger to the body and to health of the patients.

     If the pinworms reach the front, some women may experience vaginal itching. Other signs and symptoms that may occur because of itching are: irritation and redness around the anal area, discomfort, loss of appetite, irritability, weight loss and difficulty sleeping or sleep deprivation. Crying, fatigue, emotional changes can also be experienced. Many of these signs and symptoms are mild and there is a possibility that they do not appear at all; in this case, the patient has an asymptomatic form of infection with pinworms.

     Although this disease is widespread and not very serious, the idea of having parasites inside the body can cause psychological problems for the patient. Some people are allergic to pinworms, but their number is small. If infection is severe, there is a risk of developing appendicitis. Recently it was discovered a correlation between low levels of zinc and pinworms.

Treatment of pinworm infection

     Infection with pinworms is not a very serious medical condition, but definitely needs medical care, although there are cases in which the patient does not need treatment. When you start to feel the specific signs and symptoms of this disease, we recommend you to call your doctor. If it is not discovered and treated in time, this infection can cause many complications that could affect the patient's lifestyle. Once the diagnosis is established, your doctor may switch to appropriate therapy for treating the disease.

     To detect the presence of these parasites, the doctor will do a test tape using a transparent strip that will apply to the anal area. Eggs are thus identified on the tape under a microscope. Any such test must be done the morning after the patient woke up, before he have his seat or take a bath, in which case pinworm eggs could be removed.

     After detection of pinworm infection, doctors can determine the correct treatment based on drugs with or without prescription. A normal therapy involves two rounds of treatment, which is why it is advisable to consult your doctor before taking any medicine against infection with pinworms. Usually, the second dose is administered at an interval of 15 days after the first dose. These drugs are also used to treat infections with roundworm, and can be taken without doctor's recommendation. You can also ask a pharmacist about the medicines that fight infection with pinworms.

     More than 90% of cases are cured in time if proper treatment is applied, although eggs are not always killed. In this case, the individual should return to the doctor after 15 days for a new examination and treatment methods. Pinworm infections can be prevented easily. You have to wash your hands carefully before eating to avoid ingestion of pinworm eggs that could be on the nail. Also you should bathe immediately after you woke up to lower the risk of contamination with eggs. It is important to wash and change your underwear and pajamas every day.

     It is well known that eggs are very sensitive to sunlight, so we advise you to draw curtains and blinds during the day to pick up in each room. The anal region should be cleaned frequently with soap and warm water at least twice a day to kill the eggs. Treating one family member might not be enough. Because this type of medical disease spreads very quickly, doctors choose to treat the whole family, even if only one member of the pinworm infection is suspected. Healthy lifestyle and clean and understanding life cycle of pinworms may protect us from infection with pinworms.