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.
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.
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.
Pinworm infection is caused by the helminth (Enterobius vermicularis), a small, white parasitic worm. The pinworm is about the length of a staple (ranges from 2 to 13 mm [0.08 to 0.5 inches]) and lives for the most part in the rectum of humans. While an infected person is asleep, female pinworms exit the intestines through the anus and deposit eggs on the skin around the anus. Within a few hours of being deposited on the skin around the anus, pinworm eggs become infectious (capable of infecting another person). Pinworm eggs can survive up to three weeks on clothing, bedding, or other objects if the environment is sufficiently moist.
What is the pinworm test?
If pinworms are suspected, transparent adhesive tape or a pinworm paddle (supplied by your healthcare provider) is applied to the anal region. The tape can pick up both eggs and occasionally the adult worms. Most clinicians suggest the test be done as soon as the person awakens and before any bowel movement or cleansing (bath, shower) as these actions tend to remove the eggs and parasites from the anal/rectal area.
The pinworm eggs or a few adult worms adhere to the sticky tape or paddle and are identified by examination under an ordinary microscope by a qualified laboratory technician.
In some individuals, it is possible to see the adult worms without a microscope, but the transparent eggs are small and can only be seen with a microscope.
The test should be done as soon as you wake up in the morning (because bathing or having a bowel movement may remove eggs). The exam may require several samples for a positive diagnosis. Researchers suggest that repeating the test at about three different intervals yields about a 90% detection rate.
Usually, a single tablet of mebendazole (Vermox) is used for treatment.
Another effective medication is albendazole (Albenza) but it may require other medications to reduce the inflammation of the central nervous system, a side effect of the drug.
Pyrantel pamoate (Pin-Rid, Pin-X) is available over-the-counter for pinworm after confirmation of the diagnosis by a licensed healthcare practitioner.
To treat pinworms affecting urinary and genital organs, combination therapy with oral mebendazole (Vermox) and ivermectin (Stromectol) for the worms as well as topical therapy for the eggs may be required.