Pinworms
(Pinworm Infection in Children and Adults, Enterobiasis)

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Pinworms facts

  • Pinworm infections are caused by worm-like parasites that infect humans' intestines and rectal/anal areas.
  • Young children and their household members are at risk for pinworm infections.
  • Pinworms are visible; they range in size from 2-13 mm, are white, and resemble a worm but the pinworm eggs are small, transparent and can be seen only with a microscope.
  • Pinworm infections are spread person-to-person by ingesting pinworm eggs that have contaminated fingers, bedding, clothing or other items.
  • The symptoms of pinworm infection are discomfort and itching in the anal/rectal area.

    What is pinworm infection?

    Pinworm infection is an infection of the large intestine and anal area by a small, white parasite that resembles a "worm." The medical name for the parasite is Enterobius vermicularis, but it is commonly termed a pinworm in both the lay and medical literature. These parasites are also termed seatworms or threadworms, and the infections is medically termed enterobiasis or helminthiasis. Pinworms and other parasitic worms (which, as a group, are termed helminths) feed off of the host animal by adsorbing nutrients from the host animal. Pinworm infections are the most common helminth infection that occurs in the US.

    Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/6/2013

    Patient Comments

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    Pinworms - Experience Question: Did more than one member of your family become infected with pinworms?
    Pinworms - Symptoms Question: What symptoms did you experience with pinworm infection? Were you surprised by the diagnosis?
    Pinworms - Treatment Question: What forms of treatment, including medication, did you or a relative receive for a pinworm infection?

Are Pinworms Contagious?

Can my family become infected with pinworms from swimming pools?

Pinworm infections are rarely spread through the use of swimming pools. Pinworm infections occur when a person swallows pinworm eggs picked up from contaminated surfaces or fingers. Although chlorine levels found in pools are not high enough to kill pinworm eggs, the presence of a small number of pinworm eggs in thousands of gallons of water (the amount typically found in pools) makes the chance of infection unlikely.

My little kids like to co-bathe - could this be how they are becoming infected?

During this treatment time and two weeks after final treatment, it is a good idea to avoid co-bathing and the reuse or sharing of washcloths. Showering may be preferred to avoid possible contamination of bath water. Careful handling and frequent changing of underclothing, night clothes, towels, and bedding can help reduce infection, reinfection, and environmental contamination with pinworm eggs. These items should be laundered in hot water, especially after each treatment of the infected person and after each usage of washcloths until infection is cleared.

Did my pets give me pinworms / can I give pinworms to my pets?

No. Humans are considered to be the only hosts of E. vermicularis which is also known as the human pinworm.

SOURCE: CDC.gov. Parasites - Enterobiasis.


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