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Threadworm and How to Deal With It

Now that the new school term's back in full swing, you can look forward to a number of common school-related complaints from your child: too much homework, overbearing teachers, struggles to find friends, and…threadworm?

That’s right: if your child is under the age of 10, you may soon have a case of threadworms on your hands. But what are threadworms anyway, and how can you get rid of them? Threadworms, also referred to as pinworms, are a very common type of worm infection in the UK, affecting mostly preschool and school-age children under the age of 10, but anyone in the family can contract it. A type of roundworm, threadworms are small parasites that resemble pieces of thread (about 1 cm long).

At night, threadworms exit through the anus to reach the buttocks, where they can lay up to 16,000 eggs. Despite this, threadworms are relatively harmless, but they can cause symptoms like an itchy bum, which can become red and inflamed from scratching; irritability; sleeplessness; and a lack of appetite.

Girls may also experience itchiness around their intimate areas. You may be able to see the worms if you look between your child’s buttocks at night, or in their stools.

So how does a child develop threadworms? When an infected person experiences the itchiness that comes with having eggs around their anus, they’ll scratch, collecting the eggs beneath their fingernails. If the infected person is a child, they’re more likely to bring the eggs back to their mouth with their hands, or touch objects like food, household items, books, bedding, toothbrushes, kitchen or bathroom surfaces, and toys. Because the eggs can survive up to two weeks outside of the human body, it’s easy to pick them up when touching infected objects. Once threadworm eggs are consumed orally, the eggs will hatch in the small intestine in two weeks’ time.

Luckily, with the right treatment, you can treat a threadworm infection with no hiccups whatsoever. Unless your child is under two years old or the treatment is for you and you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you can opt for over-the-counter treatments first. It’s important to get medicine for the entire household, even if they don’t display symptoms. A single dose of medicine like Ovex Oral Suspension, which contains mebendazole to deprive worms of the sugars essential for their survival, is usually enough to kill all living worms.

It should be noted, however, that medicine kills only the worms, not the eggs. As mentioned above, eggs can live up to two weeks outside the body. They also take two weeks to hatch inside the body, so maintaining a steady regimen of medication is your best bet for a full recovery. It's also important to exercise good hygiene.

If your child is showing more serious symptoms, such as weight loss, it’s best to bring them to see their GP right away. Since threadworms aren’t serious enough to merit staying home from school, you should also visit your child’s GP if your child feels sick enough to miss classes.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to get threadworm infections repeatedly, so preventative measures are needed to prevent the worms from returning. Encourage everyone in your family to wash their hands regularly and scrub thoroughly beneath their fingernails, especially before eating, after using the toilet or after changing nappies. Disinfect kitchen and bathroom surfaces, as well as anywhere else your kids’ curious hands may access. Don’t shake clothing or bedding, as this may spread eggs and allow them to land on other surfaces. Don’t share towels, and encourage your child not to chew on their fingernails or suck their thumbs.

We hope we’ve answered all your concerns about all things threadworms. Have any other questions? Let us know in the comments below or reach out to us on Facebook and Twitter.

Disclaimer: If you are allergic to any of the ingredients listed in the products mentioned, do not consume them. Always check with your doctor before trying a new medication or regime, and if irritation or allergy occurs stop using the product or medication immediately.

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