Pinworms (Pinworm Infection in Children and Adults, Enterobiasis)

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Pinworms (Enterobiasis) Infection

What are the symptoms of pinworms in children and adults?

If symptoms are present, they are similar in both children and adults. The signs and symptoms may include one or more of the following:

  • Intense (pruritus) around the anus and/or vagina
  • Discomfort in the anal and/or vaginal area
  • Rash or skin irritation around the anus or vagina
  • Insomnia or difficulty sleeping and/or restlessness due to irritation of skin
  • Pinworms often can be seen on the anal skin or in the stools, sometimes detected in the vagina and may produce some vaginal discharge

Less common symptoms include:

Many infected children and adults have few or no symptoms but, if the infection is heavy, the symptoms can be correspondingly more severe.

Who gets pinworms?

Pinworm is the most common parasitic worm infection in the United States, and the majority of pinworm infections worldwide occur in children, in temperate climates.

Pinworms in children

School-age children have the highest rates of pinworm infection. They are followed by preschoolers. Institutional settings including day care facilities often harbor multiple individuals (adults and children) with pinworm infections. Sometimes, nearly half of the children may be infected in a day-care facility.

Pinworms in adults

Pinworm infection often occurs in more than one family member. Adults are less likely to have pinworm infection, except for mothers of infected children. However, adult sexual partners can transfer the eggs to each other. Pinworms also may infect the vagina and urethra.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/27/2016

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