These worms are called Enterobius Vermicularis, also known as threadworm, pinworm or seatworm.
They are the most common worms affecting humans in our developed countries. They look like short little pieces of white cotton thread. This is how they got their name.
Human’s are the only host for threadworms and thankfully they can’t survive in the intestinal tract of cats or dogs. Therefore, humans are the only spreaders of these little critters too. Adults can get these just as easily as children and even the cleanest families can get infected. They are highly infectious and adults are generally less symptomatic.
Some of the main symptoms of threadworms include;
- itchy bottom- most common in children. Can be at any time, but worse at night
- vulval itching
- urinary incontinence
- tummy pains
- watery stools
- teeth grinding
- restless sleep
- loss of appetite
So how do we get threadworms?
It all begins by ingesting the EGGS; via contact with others, by consuming contaminated food or water, by biting our nails, thumb sucking or touching contaminated items. Also by inhaling dust from bedding, couches or other fabrics that are infected by their tiny eggs, or via sexual contact.
How do they reproduce?
Threadworms are between 5mm (females) to 10mm (males) long. Once you ingest the eggs they hatch in the small intestine. After 2 months they develop into adult worms and then migrate to the large intestine where they mate. 1 month after mating the male dies and the female survives and moves to the anus. Only at night the female comes out onto the perianal area and lays eggs. 4-6 hours later these eggs grow into worms and wriggle back into their home…YOU! This is called retro-infection.
In order to stay alive and reproduce they cause your bottom (and sometimes vaginal area) to be extremely itchy at night. So we itch, sometimes without even knowing, getting eggs on our fingers and in our nails. So then when we pick our nose, bite our nails, suck our thumb, touch items or put our fingers in our mouth while eating food and become reinfected. Or we infect others….. and so the cycle continues!
Treat one, treat all
Once worms have been diagnosed, it’s essential that you treat the whole family.
Other necessary measure to prevent reinfection:
- Cut nails short
- Scrub under nails
- Shower or bathe first thing in the morning
- Wear undies to bed and fresh undies after bathing
- Regularly wash bath towels and use only yours
- Use a barrier cream on the bum at night time
- Disinfect the toilet seat
- Vacuum and mop the home
- Wash all bedding or blankets
- Clean teddies and bath toys
What causes re-infection?
- Nose picking
- Thumb sucking
- A low immune system or poor gut health
- Genitourinary reservoir in females
What if there is reinfection on a regular basis?
Consult your practitioner for alternative treatment options that also focus on enhancing your immune system and improving overall gut resilience.