Tiny little worms that are just about ¼ inch to ½ inch in size are pinworms. They infect the large intestines and are often observed as small, white worms sticking out of the anus of children. Pinworms are called Enterobius vermicularis in medical terms. They belong to the group of helminth worms that absorb all the nutrients from the host body.
You may squirm at the mention of these worms, but they are one of the most common worm infections in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a United States federal agency, there are about 40 million people in the US infected with pinworms. They are commonly seen in children, but an adult infection is also not uncommon.
Transmission of Pinworms
Pinworms in children are easily spread from one infected kid to the other. Thus, it is very common for mothers of infected children getting pinworms into their system. Sexual partners can spread the infections among one another. This happens because the female pinworm travels out of the anus of the infected person at night. She quietly lays her eggs around the anus while the person is asleep. This causes intense itching and the person scratches to relieve the discomfort. The tiny eggs that are barely visible to the naked eye get transferred to the fingers and get stuck between the nails and they are easily transferred to any object they come in contact with. This includes toys, food, towels, clothes, utensils, etc. They even fall on the bed, linens and become a part of household dust. The eggs can enter the digestive system by ingestion through mouth and hatch into tiny pinworms. They can easily be swallowed accidentally by adults and children who do not wash their hands properly. These nasty intestinal parasites live for about 3 to 6 weeks and their eggs can survive for about 2 weeks outside the host body.
Symptoms of Pinworm Infection
The symptoms of pinworm infection in adults include intense itching around the anus and vagina. This itching is very common during night after the person falls asleep. Other symptoms include upset stomach, loss of appetite, restlessness, irritability and sometimes during heavy infestation one may observe a white worm around the anus (especially in small children). Let us have a look at remedies for pinworm infection in adults below.
Cures for Pinworms in Adults
Many people are under the impression that pinworm infection gets cured on its own. It can, but will take about two life cycles (14 weeks) of the pinworm to get completely cured. During this time, the person may have already spread the infection to others in the house, in school or at work. Thus, it is important to seek cure for pinworm in adults, even if one does not develop any severe symptoms. The most commonly prescribed medication for pinworms is mebendazole (Vermox). It is used to treat worm infections successfully. Other medications include albendazole (Albenza) that is also an anti worm medication. Apart from these prescription drugs, there are many over the counter pinworm medications available. They are just as effective and help get rid of pinworms. Any medication with pyrantel in it is effective enough to get rid of pinworms.
Home Remedies for Pinworm Infection in Adults
Apart from the above medications, you can try some home remedies to treat pinworms. You should eat a little garlic clove, cooked or raw. You can even mix garlic with honey and eat it up. You should even make a paste of a garlic clove and mix it with about ½ pinch of Vaseline. This mixture should be applied to the anal region as it will help kill the eggs and even reduce the itching. Change the bed linens frequently and wash them in a solution of dish detergent and ammonia. This will help get rid of pinworm eggs shed on the bed sheets. Avoid scratching the anus as it will lead to spread of eggs through your fingers. Keep your nails short as the eggs tend to get stuck in the nails and get swallowed through the mouth. This again starts the life cycle of the pinworm. Wash you hands frequently and teach children to wash hands every time they use the washroom and before eating anything.
It is important to prevent reinfection and take medications like pyrantel, albendazole and mebendazole to get rid of the worms from the body. Proper hygiene is the only way to prevent a pinworm infection.