This past summer, three of six members of my household discovered they had pinworms. This is our story of how we got rid of these parasites.
Pinworms are a parasite commonly transmitted between young children. Although they cause no danger to their host, it is a condition that needs to be treated. This is my family's story of trying to eradicate these pesky 1/4-inch parasites from our household—in order to regain some semblance of normality in our lives.
It was smack in the middle of the summer, usually a time for my kids and me to kick back and relax, maybe head to the beach, sleep in late, and just enjoy the unscheduled sun-filled days of summer, nothing better, really. But this past summer turned out to have quite a different agenda laid out for us. This alternative plan involved lots of laundry and trips to the pharmacy.
Because three of the six members of my household discovered that they had pinworms. I know the thought is disturbing—no pleasant way to put it, really—unless you are an epidemiologist, in which case the discovery might be interesting.
Pinworms (or threadworms in the UK), Enterobius vermicularis, are small white parasites that live in the digestive system and are transferred between people, especially young children. The transfer takes place after one person scratches their anus, gets the tiny eggs on their hands or under their fingernails, and then touches a surface that another person later touches. Sometimes the eggs end up on food that is later eaten; the eggs are then ingested. After about a month, the ingested eggs turn into worms. The female pinworm crawls out of the body during the night and lays eggs on the skin around the anus. The wiggling motion when the worm lays eggs may irritate the skin and cause itching. This begins the cycle again.
- Pinworms do not cause serious problems.
- This infection does not reflect uncleanliness or poor hygiene and frequently does recur.
An Unwelcome Sight
The trauma all began one evening when my six-year-old son very casually mentioned that he saw worms in the toilet after going to the bathroom. While my oldest son is known for imaginative storytelling, this one, my youngest son, always says it like it is. I knew there was no creative storytelling here, but the question was, what happens next?
On a deeper level, my question really was, “why does life always seem to throw curve balls?” Just when you think you’ve got life figured out, for the most part, you have to learn about a whole new ugly dimension.
The gears in my head were turning, trying to recall any prior knowledge I had of worms, and came up with a few memories. Firstly, my husband, who grew up in Ireland, had mentioned something about them. Hearing stories of my husband’s upbringing on the West coast of Ireland would remind anyone of the typical grandparent telling you how they walked to school barefoot in the snow. My husband was the oldest of seven siblings and they all would cringe when it was discovered that one of them had worms. Apparently, there was an awful-tasting purple medicine that his mother had in her cabinet of old-fashioned Irish medicinal cures and that when one child had worms they all had to ingest this medicine, a traumatic childhood memory.
I also recalled Dr. Oz, of the Dr. Oz Television Show, mentioning the use of tape; I know this is also graphic, but the tape is placed on the anal opening at night, in order to verify the existence of the worms, given that they come out at night to lay eggs.
Garlic and Hygiene
After making an appointment to see the pediatrician and having the enjoyable task of describing to the receptionist the reason for the visit, I proceeded to do what any person does nowadays when a medical concern arises—ask Mr. Google about it (maybe we should change his name to Dr. Google).
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I searched for natural remedies and came up with strange-sounding health food store concoctions that seemed difficult to track down. Some of the more practical advice, though, was to not only wash the bedding daily but to wash the walls as well, a scary thought and a sure way to ruin the summer relaxation I had planned. Other suggestions involved washing hands before meals and snacks, of course, as well as eating lots of garlic, two things that seemed easy enough.
Symptoms of Pinworms
Although there may be no symptoms at the early stages, during the later stages some patients may experience:
- Disturbed sleep
- Itching of the anal area, may sometimes be intense, especially at night when the female worms are laying eggs
- Itching of the vaginal area (females)
- Slight nausea
- Vague intermittent abdominal pain
Individuals with severe itching may experience:
- Loss of appetite
- Severe irritability
- Sleeping difficulties
- Weight loss
Source: Medical News Today
I identified the appearance of the worm and discovered that pinworms are the most common type of worm, and they are most likely transmitted between young children. The eggs are laid outside the anal sphincter of a person overnight, and after using the bathroom, if hands are not washed or are not washed thoroughly enough, the person later ingests the eggs while eating or putting their hands in their mouth, thus beginning the cycle yet again. Most effectively and primarily, the cycle is stopped by keeping hands and clothing very clean.
When we finally made our way to the pediatrician, his advice was much simpler and quite a relief. He said to simply take the prescribed two pills, one pill right away and a second pill two weeks later, and we should be fine. He said if the pinworms appear again that we should treat the whole family. Although the natural remedies might very well have worked, they would have taken longer and have risked a second occurrence, something I was not interested in, of course. I decided that even without the doctor's specific advice to become a cleaning machine, I would play it safe and follow some of the advice I'd read online. I think that this was in part because the idea of these worms living in my kids' bodies and eggs surviving on a sheet or pajama bottom just felt so repulsive to me.
My children took Albenza; 2 pills taken a week apart. Although I prefer natural remedies where possible, in this case, I felt the pharmaceutical medicine to be worth it. It gave me peace of mind by giving me the best chance of avoiding a second outbreak.
Raw Garlic – Garlic is known world over as nature’s cure for a myriad of conditions. It is believed to create an environment in which the worms cannot survive.
To use: Garlic can be chopped up and added to butter and spread on toast or combined with olive oil as a dip for bread. Adding the oil or butter prevents the garlic from irritating the stomach.
We eliminated any processed sugar or consumption of large amounts of fruit. It is believed that the worms thrive in a sugar rich environment. Suffice it to say that my kids were not happy about this.
I was extra diligent about having my kids wash their hands before each meal or snack.
And had children take a shower each morning to wash off any possible eggs on any parts of their body. A bath might not remove the eggs as well as a shower.
Around the House
- Washed bedding daily; this is ideally done in hot water with bleach
- Washed pajamas daily
- Sanitized door knobs and light switches often
More Nutritional Recommendations
- Eat a high-fiber diet
- Eat pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and figs on an empty stomach
- Eliminate all sugar, refined carbohydrates, fruits, and pork until the worms are eradicated
Source: Nutritional Healing
Declaration: Information in this article does not replace medical advice.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2012 Tracy Lynn Conway
Golikeu on August 18, 2019:
Thank you! The article is very well written; clear, accurate and easy to understand. I had some problems with parasites.
Tracy Lynn Conway (author) from Virginia, USA on July 01, 2019:
Jo Miller, thank you!
Pyerie, great that you found something that works! Thank you for your comment!
MB and Cknospe, thank you for your comments! I washed bedding and pjs daily for the first week and then tapered off after that.
Kari, my son did get better, thank you. These techniques were effective. Thank you for your question.
Jo Miller from Tennessee on June 27, 2019:
Well done. Helpful information. I haven't heard about pin worms since I was a child--which was a long time ago.
Lani on June 16, 2018:
Thank you for these maybe the words would stop bothering me while I'm trying to sleep
someone who is very distressed on December 19, 2017:
i've had pinworms/threadworms ever since I was about 12, I am 19 now. i have eaten raw garlic, spread it on my bum, have drank apple cider vinegar and normal vinegar, i've even put isopropyl alcohol in it to see if the itching stopped. i also tried pumpkin seeds a long time ago, but i hated them.
i've taken mebendazole multiple times and nothing worked.
i tried tobacco twice a few days ago too. i've read on the internet that if you EAT tobacco the worms get repulsed and die. you'll see them on your stool.
however, i've never seen any worms on my stool or the toilet paper, or anything like that. i remember i went to the doc and he wanted me to try the tape test, but i was embarrassed of letting him or my mother do it so i never did.
i know that the itching isn't psychosomatic though, as i can feel the worms literally moving and wriggling inside me. i also have itchiness all over my body, including nose and ears. i might have scabies but they only say it's dry skin.
Cknospe on November 28, 2017:
This has been awful . The Reese oTc never worked
We took one pill and it seemed like symptoms died down but now back
My Ped should have giving me 2 tablets and treated everyone sametime
I truly hope we can overcome this .. it’s been months :(
Eforte on October 30, 2017:
Thanks for this it gives me hope. My son has them for the 2nd time and I’m about to lose my mind. It’s been a year and 1/2 since his last episode but I was glad to hear of someone beating this. None of my friends kids have ever had it. I feel totally gross and alone.
Mb333 on August 03, 2017:
How long did you continue to wash sheets and pjs daily?
Mb on August 03, 2017:
How long did you keep up the cleaning regime? Washing bedding and pjs daily?
Tracy Lynn Conway (author) from Virginia, USA on July 30, 2017:
Yes, the treatments worked and my son is better.
Kari on July 29, 2017:
Hi, I am now 12 years old and suffering with this. I would like to know if your son ever got better?
Tracy Lynn Conway (author) from Virginia, USA on November 16, 2012:
DDE - Thank you, I am glad you found it interesting!
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on November 08, 2012:
Interesting and well explained, I too remember this from Dr Oz show a good remedy to follow
Tracy Lynn Conway (author) from Virginia, USA on November 07, 2012:
Jools99 - What an awful experience you have described, but I am glad you were able to treat them before your departure. I am glad you found the hub useful, thank you!
Billybuc - It was horrible, and the daily task of preventing the insidious eggs from spreading to new surfaces was something of a nightmare. You are lucky to have avoided this experience. I hope this information serves useful to others, thank you!
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on November 05, 2012:
What a horrible experience. I am happy to say I never faced this with my son. This is a great hub; if you can provide information useful to just one more parent you will have written an excellent hub.
Jools Hogg from North-East UK on November 05, 2012:
Tracy, very useful hub - it happened to us the night before we were due to fly away on holiday! My sister had to take me to an all night pharmacy and we all had to take a tablet each. Awful little things when your child is being irritated by them and boy those tablets are expensive!