Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

ICD-10: B80.0.

Alternative Name: Seatworm.

A member of the genus Enterobius or related genera of nematodes in the family Oxyuridae, abundant in a large variety of vertebrates, including such species as Oxyuris equi (the horse pinworm), Enterobius vermicularis (the human pinworm), Syphacia and Aspiculuris species (the mouse pinworm), Passalurus ambiguus (the rabbit pinworm), and Syphacia muris (the rat pinworm).

Pinworms are small, white worms that live in the intestines. Pinworm infections are common in young children. Infection with pinworms occurs in all areas of the world. School age children followed by preschoolers have the highest rate of infection. Infection often occurs in more than one family member. Childcare center and other institutional settings often have cases of pinworm infection.

Pinworms are contagious and easily spread, usually from child to child. Pinworm eggs can be picked up on children's fingers when they are playing. When children who are infected scratch their itchy bottoms, the tiny eggs can get under their fingernails. Eggs can stay or your child's skin for several hours. They can survive for up to 3 weeks on clothes, bedding and toys. If the eggs are on your child's hands or toys and your child puts their fingers or toys in their mouth, the tiny eggs can enter their bodies. Children who don't wash their hands thoroughly before eating and children who suck their thumbs are at an increased risk.

Although pinworm infections are more common in school-age children, anyone can get it. As children who are infected move around the house, the eggs may be spread, and other family members can become infected. Sometimes adults breathe in the eggs when the bed covers are shaken. However, this is not very common.

Pets do not spread pinworms, although they may carry their own kinds of worms.

If your child is infected with pinworms, he or she may frequently scratch his or her bottom. Your child may also move around a lot in bed at night or may not be able to sleep. The itching is caused by the female pinworm that comes out of the rectum to lay eggs around the anus (the opening to the rectum). The eggs stay in the upper part of the intestine until they hatch. After they hatch, the worms move down the length of the intestine, and then out the anus where they lay more eggs.


Itching around the anus, disturbed sleep, and irritability are common symptoms. If the infection is heavy, symptoms may also include loss of appetite, restlessness, and difficulty sleeping. Most symptoms of pinworm infection are mild. Many infected people have no symptoms.


If pinworms are suspected, transparent adhesive tape is applied to the region. The eggs become glued to the sticky tape and are identified by the examination with a microscope. Because the bathing or having a bowel movement may remove eggs, the test should be done as soon as you wake up in the morning. You may need to provide several samples to your healthcare provider for examination. Since scratching of the anal area is common, samples taken from under the fingernails may also contain eggs. Eggs are rarely found during lab examination of stool or urine. At night, the adult worms can sometimes be seen directly in bedclothes or around the anal area.


Most pinworm infections are mild and easily treated. Your doctor may prescribe a single chewable tablet of a medicine called mebendazole. A second tablet is taken about 3 weeks later if the infection is not cured or your doctor may recommend another kind of medicine called pyrantel, which is taken as a single dose.

Even if only one child in your family has pinworms, it is often important that everyone in the household be treated with the pinworm medicine at the same time. Here are other steps you should take to get rid of pinworm eggs:

Preventive Measures:

    Wash all the sheets, blankets, towels and clothing in the house in hot water.

  • Carefully clean everyone's fingernails (which might hold the worm eggs) and cut them short.

  • Scrub toys, countertops, floors and other surfaces the infected child has touched.

  • Vaccum carpets.

  • Make sure your child washes his or her hands before a meal and after using the restroom.

  • Keep your child's fingernails trimmed.

  • Discourage your child from nail-biting and scratching their anal area.

  • Be sure your child changes into a clean pair of underwear each day.

  • Have your child bathe in the morning to reduce egg contamination.

  • Open bedroom blinds and curtains during the day. Eggs are sensitive to sunlight.

  • After treatment, change your child's night clothes, underwear and bedding.

NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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