Worms in Children
Worms in Children Families with young children will probably have to deal with worms at some point throughout childhood as they are very common and luckily easy to treat. Most commonly referred to as 'worms' the most common worms to affect Australians are actually called threadworm, (Enterobius vermicularis) or 'pinworms'. The threadworm can affect adults as well as children.
Threadworms or pinworms are tiny white worms that are approximately one centimeter in length and are similar looking to a thread of white cotton, which is why they are called 'thread'worms.
Pets cannot get threadworms, so this is not carried via dogs or cats; although children can get different types of worms from animals.
Approximately one month after the egg of the threadworm is swallowed the adult worm escapes from the child's bottom and lays eggs on the skin and around the opening of the anus, which causes itching. If hands are not washed often when a worm infection has occurs another cycle may begin, from the mouth. If the eggs are moved to other bedding or clothing surfaces they can live for up to two weeks.
Worms can be a problem in children as they eat up all the nutrients received from food and can cause the child to become malnourished. If the worms are able to eat their nutrients for too long, the affected child may start losing weight drastically and cause them to become weak and low their immunity.
Signs and Symptoms
The main symptom of threadworms is itching around the bottom area and children may not feel well and not wish to eat. Luckily threadworms do not cause any major health problems unless the scratching causes infection. For females, the itching can move to the vagina causing more discomfort. The worms may be visible in a child's waste or around the bottom area, earlier in the morning.
It is important for parents to take their child to the doctor to confirm the diagnoses and perform a small test. The test consists of the doctor using tape to pick up any worm eggs around the anus.
Treatment involves a dose of medication, available from the pharmacy that needs to be taken by the entire family, to ensure the eggs have not spread to other family members. It is important that all family members are treated at the same time.
To stop itching and prevent infection soothing and antiseptic creams can be used on the bottom area. It is very important that children understand that they need to not scratch and if they do that they need to thoroughly wash their hands afterwards because otherwise another case of worms can be spread throughout their body and family. Parents should trim their child's fingernails to assist in not spreading the worms, further.
All bedding, clothes and pyjamas need to be washed in hot water to kill any worm eggs and the toilet needs to be disinfected as often as possible.
Parents should keep their child home from school or child care, if possible to stop the worms spreading to other children and families.