- After experiencing two months of anal itching and bleeding, a 32-year-old mother underwent a colonoscopy and found out that she had a 1-centimeter pinworm living — and laying eggs — in her anus.
- As many as 50% of children pick up pinworms, the most common worm infection in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Symptoms include itching around the vagina and anus, irritability, and nausea.
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After experiencing two months of anal itching and bleeding, a 32-year-old mother visited a medical clinic for a workup. A colonoscopy revealed that she had a 1-centimeter pinworm living — and laying eggs — in her butt, according to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The woman’s 5-year-old daughter had the condition too, which was eventually traced to the child’s school, where a number of the girls’ classmates got the same diagnosis.
Pinworms, or Enterobius vermicularis, are actually pretty common — especially among children. While even just reading about the condition may lead you to feel queasy, the infection typically comes with few symptoms, and rarely leads to serious health issues.
Once diagnosed, it’s fairly easy to treat, and families can protect against it with some basic hygiene practices.
After experiencing 2 months of anal itching and bleeding, a mother was diagnosed with pinworms
As many as 50% of children pick up pinworms, the most common worm infection in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While anyone can develop the infection, it’s most prevalent among children between the ages of 5 and 10 who have a tendency to touch everything and may not wash their hands properly. Since it’s such a contagious condition, family members and caregivers are prone to developing it as well.
So, what exactly are pinworms and how are they contracted?
As many as 50% of children pick up pinworms
As the name suggests. pinworms are small, thin, pin-shaped worms about the size of a staple, which can live in a person’s colon and anus.
When an infected person scratches their anus due to an inflammatory response, the eggs cling to their fingers and easily spread from there. Someone can accidentally swallow or breathe in the eggs through contaminated food or beverages. They can also ingest the eggs by putting their fingers in their mouths after touching infected surfaces. Children are known to pick up the infection from playing in sandboxes, too.
After taking up residence in a person’s body, female worms exit through the butt while the infected person is asleep, and deposit their eggs on the surrounding skin.
Common symptoms include itching around the vagina and anus, irritability and nausea.
Female pinworms lay and deposit their eggs around an infected person’s anus
How can parents take preventative measures to protect themselves and their children? Basic hygiene is key.
“Prevention of pinworms includes good hand hygiene, like washing hands with soap and water before eating and after using the bathroom,” Nadia Sabri, a pediatrician at Austin Regional Clinic, told Insider. “No nail-biting, and keep fingernails short and clean.”
Sabri recommends families wash linens, towels, and clothes in hot water and be vigilant about vacuuming play areas — especially if there is an outbreak in a child’s class.
She also advises parents to instruct their children to avoid scratching around the anus.
But parents shouldn’t feel stigmatized if pinworms befall their family, as it can happen to anyone — even A-list celebrities.
During an interview on the “The Joel McHale Show” last year, actress Kristen Bell opened up about how she caught pinworms from her 3-year-old daughter.
When Bell noticed her daughter scratching her bottom, she immediately knew there was a problem.
“You have to monitor it and you have to look in their poop,” Bell told McHale. “Sure enough, I wiped and saw a little white worm.”
Pinworm infections are easily detectable and treatable. Eggs will become visible by pressing pieces of tape to the skin around the anus, a process aptly called, the tape test. Shining a flashlight on the butt at night, when the parasite is more likely to show up, is another way concerned parents can check.
The condition is typically treated with oral medication, and medical experts recommend that an entire household seek treatment, even if just one person gets a diagnosis.
As they say, the early bird catches the worm.