Threadworms, also called pinworms and seatworms, are small worms found in human intestines and the rectum. Highly contagious, threadworms are contracted through direct contact with an infected person or contaminated object, such as a toilet seat, bedding or furniture. It is possible for dust to contain live threadworms, making them airborne. External environments can support live worms for two to three weeks and they are not visible to the naked eye.
Ingested eggs hatch in the small intestine and grow to adulthood in the large intestine in two to six weeks. Male worms live for about two months or until they mate. The impregnated female worms will lay up to 10,000 eggs each in the perianal skin around the anus while their human host is asleep. The eggs become infective within six hours, causing the anus to itch temporarily. Any eggs that are not washed or scratched away will hatch. The newly hatched worms crawl back into the intestines and begin the cycle again. Itching caused by the threadworms is a nuisance but not considered to be a serious health issue. In fact, most people are symptomless and may never know they are infected.
In addition to the itchy anus, threadworms are capable of causing a rare variety of other symptoms in some people, such as restless sleep, irritability, teeth grinding and upset stomach. Secondary infections may also occur, including urinary tract infections, vaginal infections and bacterial infections of the anus due to scratching.
Taking a shower in the morning will remove eggs that have been laid around the anus overnight. Everyone in the home should use their own clean washcloth and towel as well as wear clean clothes, pajamas and underwear daily. Bedrooms should be vacuumed and dusted as often as possible and bedding should be changed frequently. Keep fingernails cut short to avoid eggs being stored there; chewing your nails is an easy way to become infected. Avoid foods and beverages containing a lot of sugar because it is a threadworms favorite food. Taking precautions will help control threadworm population but an internal treatment should also be considered.
Medications containing mebendazole, combantrin and pyrantel embonate interfere with the worm’s ability to absorb glucose, depleting their energy to a point where they can no longer survive. Pyrantel embonate causes paralysis of the worm’s nervous system, making it easier for the human to expel them. It is important to treat all members within the household at the same time. Pregnant women and children less than 2 years old should not use these medications. Alternative treatments are available.
Since threadworms like sugar, it is easy to assume they will not like anything bitter. Extract the juice from a few radishes and add a pinch of salt. Drink this bitter concoction twice a day for four days. This remedy works for a wide variety of intestinal parasites. Bitter remedies are not popular among children; you will need a sweeter remedy for them. Add a quick-acting herb called vidanga to a few sips worth of buttermilk two times for one day. For both adults and children, add ash gourd seeds to a cup of coconut milk once a day for one to three days. Some other options that reportedly work well are drinking aloe juice, drinking very salty water before meals, fasting for three days and using an enema.