photo of male and female threadworms

Has My Child Got Threadworms?

Seatworms, threadworm, pinworm

Threadworm or seatworm (known as pinworm in the US) Enterobius vermicularis infect about 50% of UK children. Children acquire threadworms from other children at nurseries and schools and bring them back to their families. Even adults without children can catch these worms which look like little pieces of white sewing thread. The males are 2-5mm and the females 8-13mm. Only in very heavy infestations can worms be seen in the stool. Enerobiasis or Oxyuris is the official name given to the seatworm infection.

Lifecycle of the Seatworm, Threadworm (Pinworm)

The eggs of the seatworm are swallowed, the eggs then hatch and grow up in the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine.  After a period of 15-40 days, when the worms are mature they migrate into the colon to mate. After mating the male worms die and are passed out with the stool. The pregnant females threadworms go on to live in the ileum, the caecum, the appendix and the ascending colon, with their heads attached in the mucosa.

When the females are ready to lay their eggs (up to 16000 per worm), they migrate into the colon traveling up to 14cm per hour down the rectum. At night, usually about 30 minutes after going to bed, the female worms exit the anus and lay their eggs. Female worms can crawl up to 6cm away from the anus to lay her eggs. They die afterwards and become transparent. You will hardly ever see them.

Needing only 6 hours of body warmth, the eggs hatch into lavae during the night and crawl back into the rectum to mature into worms. Many eggs will remain around the rectum encased in sticky mucus causing symptoms of anal itching. The itching traps eggs under the finger nails, and spreads the eggs on to bedding, clothing, objects, pet fur and other people.

The eggs left under the nails can also spread the infection back through the mouth of the same or another individual and the life cycle of the seatworm begins anew. The eggs can also survive on toys, furniture, in the dust, on walls, etc. The eggs can be inhaled from dust and then swallowed. So getting rid of a pin worm infection not only involves taking a parasite cleanse, but also continuous cleaning of the bedding and bedroom surfaces over at least three weeks. Females left to their own devises survive for 13 weeks in the gut, but infections can last for years due to the many routes of reinfection and cross-infection.

Symptoms of seat worm thread worm, (pinworm) infection

Insomia, restlessness at night, frequent waking up during the night, itching around the anus, redness of the skin due to itching (pruritis ani), itching of the vulva, appendicitis (due irritation of the lumen of the appendix), vaginitis (due to females migrating through the vagina), non-bacterial cystitis, bedwetting in children. Untreated, an infestation can cause abnormal brain EEG – looks like brain tumor, epilepsy, hyperactivity, vision problems, asthma, anorexia. Other more obscure symptoms are reported with long term infection.

Rejoice, the parasites which live in the gut are easy targets. Other types of parasite live in the blood and some live in the organs and tissues and these can take longer to eliminate. All these gatecrashers need to go. The party is over.

Testing for Worms

If you think that you might have parasites, you can ask to collect fecal sample jars from your doctor, and take in a sample for testing. However only certain parasites can be detected and you will often get false negatives.

It is helpful to know exactly which parasites you are dealing with, also to help prevent reinfection. It can be quite difficult even for laboratory technicians to tell what is what.

I would recommend using a kinesiologist (or a practitioner who uses similar, energy based methods) to help determine the more exact nature of the parasite burden as it is non-invasive and quite detailed. Find a someone who is interested in parasites!

Only about 5% of stool samples tested will show positive for eneterobius. So it is quite pointless to take stool samples, unless other parasites are suspected, but even then, stools samples of infested individual often yield false negative results.

Adults can self diagnose a pinworm infection based on their symptoms but they should also discuss the infestation with their doctor.

It is worth asking children, particularly if they exhibit poor sleep, about the presence of symptoms and ask you doctor for advise on diagnosing them. I would also suggest discussing the best strategy for diagnosing the infection with your doctor. Here is a very detailed article on threadworm.

Treating the Infestation

Treat every family member. The chances of infection spreading within the family are at about 75%. While threadworms are unique to humans and they are not spread between humans and animals, do harmonize worming routines for your entire family including pets.

Conventional threadworm treatments offered by the NHS use Mebendazole (Vermox) and Piperazine Like all drugs, they can cause a range of common side effects and also rare but serious side effects. Before you take any prescribed drugs, you should always check for the side effects and contraindications for yourself. These conventional treatments don’t always work. This is because these medicines paralyse the worms. They do not kill the worms, eggs and lavae. Also they are often given is just one or two doses spread apart by two weeks.

photo of male and female threadworms

A photo of male and female threadworms

 

An alternative is to use a natural parasite cleanse for at least whole month made from herbs or homeopathic ingredients. Following on from the cleanse, take a daily dose once a week as a maintenance dose. Do a full cleanse at least twice a year. It is best if the ingredients actually kill the worms, eggs and lavae.

Household Cleaning

  • Spring clean the entire house.
  • Washing bedding, towels, flannels and clothing every day if you can in temperatures greater than 60 Celsius.
  • Wash the surfaces in the bedroom daily. Even a toothbrush can harbour worm eggs.
  • Declutter the bedroom. Never shake the bedding in the house.

Personal Hygiene
Scrub under nails first thing in the morning, after every bowel movement, and before eating.
Bath or shower first thing in the morning.
Wash the hands frequently through the day.
Keep nails short.
Infants can be put to bed with their pants on and wearing cotton gloves. These will need daily washing.
Discourage children from biting their nails and sucking their thumb or hair.

Food Hygiene
Wash the hands and scrub the nails before preparing food.
Do not leave food uncovered.
Do not eat in the bedroom. If you have water by the bed, keep it covered.

Please don’t be alarmed if you think that you of your children have threadworms. Archaeologists have discovered that they have been infecting humans for at least 10,000 years, after some fossilised stools were found containing eggs in Utah!

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