Pinworm infection: everything you need to know

Pinworm infection is the most common type of parasitic worm (helminth) disease in the United States and one of the most widespread globally, according to data from the Mayo Clinic. This pathology is also known as enterobiasis, as it is caused by the nematode Enterobius vermicularis.

Infection by pinworms or enterobiasis falls under the category of "soil-borne helminthiasis". According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around the world there are more than 1.5 billion people affected by this type of pathogens. Ascariasis and hookworm are some of the most common.

This means that 24% of the world's population has intestinal parasites of some kind. More than 500 million school-age children are at risk from this situation. If you want to know everything about pinworm infection or enterobiasis, read on.

Symptoms of pinworm infection

Pinworm eggs that have been accidentally ingested hatch in the small intestine and mature into adults in the colon. So that, most of the symptoms will be anal / intestinal in nature. According to the National Library of the United States, the most common clinical signs are the following:

  • Intense itching around the anus: This happens because, during the night, female pinworms travel to the perianal area of ​​the patient and lay their eggs in contact with the outside.
  • Irritation and infection of the skin of the anus: patients tend to scratch a lot when faced with this clinical picture, which facilitates the appearance of concomitant infections.
  • Vaginal discomfort, in case pinworms enter this apparatus instead of returning to the anus.
  • Stomach ache and occasional nausea.
  • When the parasite load is very high, the patient you may experience malnutrition and weight loss.

It should be noted that, despite the above, most infections are asymptomatic. Many people never find out that they have the infection and this makes it much easier to spread between individuals.

Intestinal parasites inhabit the lumen of the digestive system and can move to fulfill their life cycles.

Possible complications

Usually, that this pathology becomes chronic is difficult, since the pharmacological approach is simple. However, if left untreated, pinworm infection can lead to urinary tract disturbances, marked weight loss, and even a peritoneal cavity (abdomen) infection.

To know more: Most common food parasites

How can I get it?

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states, the route of transmission is fecal-oral. This means that an infected person excretes the eggs with the feces and another, by putting their hands in their mouth after touching surfaces that have been in contact with the stool of the patient, ingests them.

As you can imagine, contagion does not usually occur through direct contact with feces. The eggs deposited in the anus of the infected can survive up to 2-3 weeks in sheets, clothes, toilets, bathroom elements, glasses, food, cutlery and many other materials. That is the true potential of the parasite.

How is pinworm infection diagnosed?

As the specialized portal shows us MSDmanuals, the diagnosis is very simple. Females are sometimes seen in the anus area, especially in the early morning or at night. Anyway, it is usual to obtain a strip of cellophane from the perianal area of ​​the patient and analyze it under a microscope. If it is infected the eggs will show.

Available treatments

According to sources already cited, mebendazole, marketed under names like Ovex ®, Vermox ® or Lomper ®, is often the way to go in pinworm infections. This dose will be double, since one is offered to the patient at the beginning and another two weeks later. These simple acts, in almost all cases, end the problem at its roots.

Other available antiparasitic drugs are albendazole or pyrantel pamoate. The premise is the same: two doses spread over two weeks to end the infection. On the other hand, anal itching can be addressed with certain topical ointments.

Prevention of pinworm infection

Pinworm eggs can be viewed under a microscope for diagnosis of the disease.

The central idea is that never put your hands in your mouth without having washed them well first. This not only prevents helminthiases, but also a series of bacterial, viral and parasitic pathologies that can be transmitted orally. It is best to get used to sanitizing several times a day.

If unfortunately you have already contracted the infection, the best prevention is to avoid transmitting it to your environment. For this you can follow the following tips:

  • Wash your anal area every morning: As we have said, female pinworms lay their eggs in this area every night. If you wash as soon as you wake up, you decrease the chances of infecting it.
  • Change underwear and bedding daily. Better if it's in the morning, just got up.
  • Wash the clothes in hot water and dry them at maximum temperature. This will kill any attached eggs.
  • Do not scratch yourself: scratching the anal area will only worsen the clinical picture. Go for over-the-counter ointments that decrease itching.

You may be interested in: How to eliminate parasites from your body with dry cloves and flaxseed

children are the most affected

Sometimes putting dirty hands to our mouths is something we do instinctively. Attempting to correct this behavior is the first step in avoiding a wide variety of diseases, including pinworm infection.

Children are the most likely to suffer the effects of this parasiteEither because of their less developed immune systems or because of their less hygienic habits. If you notice that your child has a nocturnal anal itching that does not improve in a couple of days, go to the doctor quickly. With two doses of antiparasitics the situation is solved without major problems.

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