Let Us Talk - Threadworms (Pinworms)

Let Us Talk - Threadworms (Pinworms)

Many people find it embarrassing to talk about threadworms (I mean, how can you casually ask someone about white worms/ white strings seen after using the toilet without them judging you?) 

Despite the misconceived stigma, this is not something to be ashamed of. Threadworms are not due to a lack of hygiene; instead, threadworms thrive and spread via social interaction, are highly contagious, and are common across all age groups, not just children. 

Symptoms and Causes

  • White or cream worms are seen in faeces or typically come out of the anal passage at night, as the female threadworms are nocturnal and usually come out to lay their eggs.
  • Stomachache.
  • Intense itching of the anal passage can cause sleep disturbance and deprivation.

How to Treat Over the Counter

Threadworms are easily treatable and can be treated through over-the-counter medicine, mebendazole (Ovex). Ovex is available in tablet or suspension form for anyone over the age of 2 years. 

A once-only treatment (either one Ovex tablet or 5ml spoonful suspension) is required, and retreatment is recommended after two weeks. All household members are highly recommended to be treated, even if they do not display symptoms.

Hygiene Measures to Prevent the Spread and Reoccurrence of Threadworms:

  • Ovex only kills the living threadworm but does not get rid of the eggs. Therefore, suitable hygiene measures are essential to avoid reinfection. 
  • Cutting fingernails short. Long nails likely retain threadworm eggs after scratching the anal region, which can be accidentally ingested.
  • Retreating with Ovex after two weeks 
  • Changing nightwear and bed linen daily for several days after treatment.
  • Washing clothes and bed linen in a hot cycle - simply shaking the material will not be enough!
  • Discourage thumb or finger sucking by children.
  • Thoroughly wash hands with warm water and soap before handling food, changing nappies, and using the toilet.
  • Thoroughly damp, dusting and vacuuming bathrooms and communal areas. This includes vacuuming mattresses.
  • Showering each morning, including the perianal region, to remove unhatched eggs from the skin.
  • Avoid sharing towels.
  • Changing towels regularly.
  • Treating all members of the household, even if they do not present symptoms.