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I Have Pinworms

Published: April 9, 2008
Dear TeenHealthFX,
I've been having those pinworms in my butt, but I'm too embarrassed to tell my mom or anyone. Will they eventually go away, without going to a doctor? And are they a health concern?
Signed: I Have Pinworms

Dear I Have Pinworms,

 

Pinworms are very small light-colored worms that can be seen around the rectum or in feces. People are usually infected by unknowingly eating microscopic pinworm eggs. The eggs pass into the digestive system and hatch in the small intestine. From the small intestine, pinworm larvae continue their journey to the large intestine, where they live as parasites. About 2 to 4 weeks after the pinworm eggs were originally acquired; adult female pinworms move from the large intestine to the area around the rectum. There they will lay new pinworm eggs, which trigger itching around the rectum. When someone scratches the itchy area, microscopic pinworm eggs are transferred to their fingers. Contaminated fingers can carry pinworm eggs to many different surfaces, including: bed linens, towels, clothing, toilets, drinking glasses, and food. Pinworm eggs are able to live on a surface for 2 to 3 weeks. This is why strict hand washing is so important to stop the spread of this infection as well as others.

 

Most pinworm infections cause no symptoms or cause only mild digestive problems. However, if you are infected with hundreds of worms, more serious symptoms and complications can occur, such as urinary tract infections, weight loss, or infection of the peritoneal cavity in girls and women. In addition to the health problems that can occur for the infected individual, keep in mind that the ease in which pinworms can be spread to others is also a major reason that a person needs to seek treatment immediately and rid themselves of the pinworms.

 

In terms of treatment, pinworms will not simply go away with time – pinworms need to be treated with medication. Often taking a well-tolerated tablet just once or twice will completely cure the infection.

 

Because pinworms are so easily transmitted from one person to another, it is important that your mother be notified about this so that in addition to your being treated, everyone in your household can receive medication for pinworms. In addition, all sheets, blankets, towels, and clothing in the house should be washed in hot water, and everyone’s fingernails (which might hold the worm eggs) should be carefully cleaned and cut short. TeenHealthFX can appreciate that it may feel embarrassing for you, but it is very important that you tell your mother (or school nurse if that would feel more comfortable) so all of these arrangements can be made as soon as possible.

If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-6475 for an appointment or contact your local teen health center.

 

Signed: TeenHealthFX

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