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:
especially at night
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
How can worms be
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
persist, or you feel really unwell, you should consult your doctor.