Threadworms in Children
Threadworms are a common form of parasitic worm infection found in children. This type of worm is typically found in a child’s intestines. Children with a threadworm infection may go undiagnosed for an extended period because symptoms are not always present. Threadworms are easily treated with the help of medication and proper hygiene.
Threadworms are white in color and have a tapered shape at both ends of their body. The female threadworm can grow to be 13 mm long, which is nearly three times the average size of a male threadworm. The average lifespan of an adult threadworm is around six weeks. Threadworms reach maturity within a few weeks of their hatching. Once the threadworm has matured, it will begin to reproduce.
Female threadworms will lay their eggs around a child’s anus. The eggs are surrounded by mucus that can cause a child to scratch the infected area. This may cause eggs to become stuck on the fingers and beneath the nails. The eggs can then be spread to other objects and additional children may become infected through contact. In some cases, children may even ingest threadworm eggs. Threadworms that are hatched around the anus will typically retreat into a child’s bowel where they will mature. Eggs that are ingested will likely hatch directly in the intestines.
Not all children infected with threadworms will exhibit symptoms. One of the most common symptoms that children may notice is an itchy sensation around their anus. Children are more likely to notice the itchy sensation during the night as this is the time when threadworms tend to lay their eggs. Some children will complain of difficulties sleeping at night. Threadworm infection can also trigger a loss of appetite. Some children may complain of minor pain in the abdominal region.
Children under the age of two are commonly prescribed Piperazine, which paralyzes the threadworms. Once paralyzed, the threadworms exit the body through the bowel. Children over the age of two are commonly treated with Mebendazole, which kills the threadworms. This is considered a preferred treatment method because only a single dose is typically needed to eliminate the infection.
Good hygiene can help to prevent threadworm infections, or stop infections from recurring. Children should keep their nails short and avoid chewing or sucking on their fingers. Before eating and after using the bathroom, children should thoroughly wash their hands and scrub under their nails. Bathing in the morning and carefully wash around the anus is helpful. Even if a doctor prescribes medication to treat a threadworm infection, good hygiene practices should still be used to ensure the threadworms do not return.