Threadworms are a fairly common occurrence especially in children and can cause more distress for the parent or carer of the child than the actual person whom has the complaint.
What Exactly Are They?
Threadworms, sometimes called pinworms are tiny parasites that live in the gut and around the anus, vagina or under the fingernails. They lay eggs on the surface of the skin and can be passed around from contamination of the fingers.
If contaminated fingers enter the mouth the eggs can find their way to the intestines and cause further infestation. The eggs can hatch in the gut and find their way to the outside world where more eggs are layed and the cycle continues.
Once an egg has hatched, they can grow into adults ands live for around six weeks. Although the eggs are usually invisible to the human eye, the grown parasite can reach up to 5mm in length and are often white with a flattish head and extended tail.
Who Is The Most At Risk Of Getting Threadworms?
Due to the nature of hygiene, knowledge and understanding, children are most at risk of getting threadworms as they explore themselves, their surroundings and others without understanding the idea of infection or germs.
How Can They Be Prevented?
Threadworms can be prevented by making sure that every one in the household abides by some basic hygiene rules. Children’s toys should be kept clean as per manufacturer’s instructions and second hand toys should be cleaned before use.
Strict hygiene applies when using the toilet or before meals and children should be educated from as early as age as possible of the importance of hygiene and how to maintain personal cleanliness.
Many children who have threadworms will scratch their bottom at night and be unaware of it so it is essential that they wash their hands and scrub their fingernails first thing in the morning. Nails should be kept short and in a reasonable condition so as to assess the cleanliness of the nail and nail bed on a daily basis.
If your child is scratching at night, encourage them to wear comfortable cotton gloves each night until the threadworms have been treated. Nail biting and thumb sucking should not be encouraged as this is one of the easiest ways of spreading the eggs to the intestinal tract.
Personal Hygiene Guidelines:
- Wash hands after using the toilet EVERY time.
- Always dispose of nappies properly.
- Use a nail brush at least once a day to remove any debris from beneath.
- Wash hands before eating.
- Always make sure the dishes are cleaned and dried properly.
- Keep children’s toys clean.
- Keep toothbrushes away from small hands that may tamper with them.
- Educate your children on the importance of hygiene.
Threadworms are common but unpleasant occurrences that are most commonly seen in childhood due to the nature of children’s behaviours and understanding of personal hygiene guidelines. It is the responsibility of the adult to ensure that children learn about hygiene and practice the basics regularly in order to protect themselves from complaints such as this.