How To Deal With Worms In Children
The most common types of worms in children are pinworms, which are also called thread worms. While pinworms can be found in adults as well, and are for that matter the worms most commonly found in adults, they most often are found in toddlers and infants. Pinworms are in the class of worms known as helminths, or many celled worms, and are parasites.
These little worms, which typically measure about a half-inch in length, and look like tiny bits of wiggly thread, are most often observed in a child’s stool. Being parasites, these little worms live in the human body, and are nourished by the same foods that nourish the human. They mostly reside in the colon, but the female worms travel outside periodically to lay their eggs, after which they die. These worms cannot reproduce while in the body. This is why they tend to be mostly observed in a child’s stools.
Annoying And Potentially Harmful
A few of these worms could be considered harmless, although through their egg laying habits they can be quite an annoyance, the most frequent symptom being an itchy bottom in boys and either an itchy bottom or an itchy vaginal area in girls. If the population of these worms gets too large however, they begin to take a disproportionate share of the nutrients that the child needs to grow and remain healthy. Worms in children can therefore result in significant nutrition deficiencies in some cases.
Children don’t get worms by picking them up and eating them, although a toddler might eat something that has worm’s eggs on it. Worms in children usually occur because a child will touch something that has worm eggs on its surface, and then put their fingers into their mouths. When that happens, the eggs are swallowed and quickly make their way to the intestines, where they hatch and attach themselves to the intestinal lining using little hooks. There they stay, waiting for nutrients to come their way, leaving only when it’s time to lay some eggs, which for mature females is about 2 months after they first arrived.
Worm Eggs Are Small – Very Small
The eggs these little worms lay are extremely tiny. They are referred to micro eggs, which is a fitting name, since we can’t easily see them, and they therefore can be very difficult to avoid. They can be in the bedding, on a towel, in a pair of pajamas, or on virtually any surface an infant or toddler might touch. That doesn’t mean that these eggs are everywhere. It just means that wherever they happen to be, they can’t be easily observed and are apt to be picked up. If the toddler scratches its bottom due to the itching caused when the worms lay their eggs, it is apt to get some of the eggs under its finger nails, from where the infestation can be spread, perhaps to other members of the family, or the toddler itself can become re-infested. The area underneath a toddler’s fingernails isn’t very large, but large enough to accommodate a significant number of pinworm eggs! Hand washing with soap and water will get rid of the eggs however, so it is very important that a child with pinworms has his or her hands, and bottom too, washed frequently.
As noted earlier, these little worms are helminths, and the medication taken to rid the body of them is called an anthelmintic, and is a prescription medication. Also readily available is an over-the counter medication called Pin-X (pyrantel pamoate). Getting rid of pinworms is something like getting rid of fleas in a house, although not nearly as difficult. You have to go after at least two generations, the worms that are currently present, and the worms that will shortly arrive if there are any unhatched eggs present. Any medication given therefore needs to be given more than once. The medication should normally be given two or three times at roughly two-week intervals. If a child is infested with these worms, the entire family should take the medication, as there is a high probability that one or more of the other family members could be hosting these parasites as well. The combination of hand washing and medication is usually quite successful in ridding the toddler, and the household, of any pinworm problems. It should be noted that if there is an apparent need for medication for children under two years old, or for pregnant women, a doctor should be consulted first to see which medications will be safe to take and which may not be.
There are of course other types of worms in children that are occasionally encountered. Some are easy to diagnose and others are not. In almost all cases however there are medications available which effectively rid the body of these unwelcome guests. It’s probably inevitable that we all will have some parasites making their home in us from time to time, but by following the rules of good hygiene we can for the most part avoid having them become a problem, and generally avoid them entirely.