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How to treat human intestinal worms

Worms are a confronting topic for many but one that is more common than you may realise, especially amongst children who are more susceptible.

Threadworms, sometimes known as pinworms, are tiny white worms which infect the large intestine and lay eggs around the bottom. The presence of eggs around the bottom often causes an itch and this leads to scratching. Threadworms are quite common in Australia and thankfully, easily treated.

Threadworms cannot be caught from animals; they are easily spread through direct or indirect contact from a carrier (usually who has not washed their hands) e.g. during team sports, holding hands, use of activity equipment such as monkey bars at parks or touching taps or door handles.

What are the symptoms?

You may not notice any symptoms, however if you do the main ones will be:

· itchy bottom, especially at night

· reduced appetite

· feeling mildly unwell

· redness or irritation of the perianal region, usually with evidence of scratching

· adult worms can sometimes be seen in the faeces, and eggs may be seen clinging to the skin around the anus

· irritability and behavioural changes.

How can worms be treated?

Treatment usually involves a single dose of medicine for the infected person and each family member. You can buy threadworm treatment over the counter at Capital Chemist, without a prescription. It is not necessary to treat children on a regular basis, just in case they have worms, but if one member of the family has them, its best for all to be treated to avoid re-infestation.

Worming medicines are normally free from side-effects although some minor stomach upset may be possible if the patient is carrying a large number of worms.

Consult your pharmacist if you are pregnant or breastfeeding before taking worming medicine.

On the same day as you take the medicine you should wash clothes, pyjamas, sheets and pillow cases in hot water. Disinfect the toilet seat with antiseptic cleaner and clean door handles and taps. Everyone should shower both the night the medication is taken, and also the next morning to wash away any new eggs that may have been laid.

Treating threadworms does not prevent reinfection, so make sure that all family members are treated at the same time, and that the family are careful with hygiene such as daily showering and washing hands. You might also like to keep children’s fingernails short and encourage them not to scratch.

It’s important to note that human worms are different to worms that infect our pets. Worming your pets should be done regularly using medicines specific for animals. You do not need to worm your kids just because you have wormed your pets. Worm your kids if they (or a family member) has symptoms!

If symptoms persist, or you feel really unwell, you should consult your doctor.


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Acknowledgement of Country

Capital Chemist acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we operate, live and gather as employees, and recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community. We pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.