What are Threadworms?
Threadworms, also known as pinworms, are small, white, thread-like worms that infect the guts of children.

How are Threadworms Spread?
Threadworms spread easily via tiny eggs (too small to see without a microscope). Without careful hygiene, the eggs can contaminate surfaces such as bedding, clothing, toys, food or hands. Once the eggs enter through the mouth, they hatch and the larvae develop into adult worms. The worms are white and look like small pieces of thread. You may notice them around your child’s bottom or in their poo.

Common Symptoms

  1. Itching: The most common symptom is itching around the anus (bottom), especially at night.
  2. Restlessness: Infected children may be restless or have difficulty sleeping.
  3. Irritability: Children may be irritable or show changes in their behaviour.
  4. Redness: Scratching may cause redness around the anus (bottom).

If your child has these symptoms, they may need treatment for threadworm. This includes medication (in children aged over 6 months) AND household measures for at least 2 weeks. They can still attend school or nursery.

Treatment

  1. Medication – in children aged over 6 months, threadworm infections are usually treated with medication, typically a single dose of an anti-worm medication (although a second dose after 2 weeks is required for some children). All family members will also need to be treated. If your child is aged 2 years or over, you can get this medication from your local pharmacy.
  2. Household measures:

      a. Hand Hygiene: Regular handwashing with soap and warm water, before all meals and after using the toilet.

      b. Nail Care: Keep nails short and try to stop nail-biting

      c. Hygiene Practices: Teach children to avoid putting hands or objects in their mouths and to avoid sharing personal items.

      d. Cleaning: Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces, particularly in the bathroom and kitchen. Wearing a face mask and gloves strip the bed and vacuum the mattress and the whole bedroom once a week – this will reduce the chance of re-infection.

      e. Bedding and Clothing: Change and wash bedding, nightclothes, and underwear regularly, especially if someone in the household is infected.

  • Get your child to wear pants or tightfitting nightwear in bed and change daily - consider cotton gloves at night to avoid scratching. 
  • "Hot wash" (>60°C) sheets initially and then at least weekly in the morning, do not shake before washing. 
  • Regularly change bath towels.
  • Fluffy toys in bed should be hot washed

When to seek medical advice

If your child is under 2 years of age, if their symptoms continue despite treatment (medication and household measures) or if your child’s symptoms return after treatment (recurrence), please arrange for your child to be reviewed by your GP practice. They will consider other possible causes for your child’s symptoms and may test for threadworm by collecting samples from the anal area (sellotape test). This test may need to be performed on multiple consecutive days to confirm the diagnosis.

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