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How to Get Rid of Pinworms

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It might seem like the stuff nightmares are made of — worms coming out of your kid’s butt — but the reality is, pinworms are a super common parasite in children, with around 20% of kids in the U.S. having them at any given time. Ew, right?! Pinworms are really one of the highlights of parenthood. Just kidding! Luckily pinworm treatment can be done fairly easily most of the time.

What Are Pinworms?

Pinworms, also called threadworms, are a small parasite that lives in the digestive tracts of humans. They are small and white, about the size of a staple at maturity. They live and grow in the lower part of the small intestine until it’s time to reproduce. The females make the journey through the colon and out the anus to lay eggs. The eggs are tiny and microscopic, and one pinworm can lay thousands! This is also when they get uncomfortable. When the female pinworms come out to lay their eggs is when the poor host realizes something is wrong and feels them and is extremely irritated. The life cycle from egg to laying eggs is about 4 weeks.

How Do I Know If My Child Has Pinworms?

For me, it was my daughter writhing and crying at night because of the pain and itchiness on her rectum. I know, I know, TMI…but fair warning, this post will be full of TMI. It’s the only way to help you deal with these annoying parasites! We battled them a couple of times while she was really little. Recently, she got them again, but was able to verbalize to me that she felt like she had them again because of what she was feeling (tickles, itches, wriggles, etc.) Other symptoms can include restless sleep, irritability, and abdominal pain that comes and goes. Some people even link it with bedwetting and urinary tract infections.

The fastest way to find out of it’s really pinworms, is, quite frankly, just to look. With my child’s permission and cooperation, I simply held a flashlight and looked at her anus to see if I could see them…and I could. They look like little white strings,  maybe 1/4 inch long, and you can see them moving around. If it doesn’t move, it’s just lint or something. When you see a pinworm, I promise you, you will KNOW. It’s not like with lice where you analyze every piece of lint or dandruff and try to decide if it’s a nit. Sometimes it helps to see them better if your child bears down a little like they are about to take a bowel movement, but sometimes they are already on the outside searching for that perfect place to lay eggs on your little love’s bottom.

Another method is to put some scotch tape on their anal area and bring it to the doctor to put under the microscope. The tape picks up some of the eggs laid on the skin and they can see them with magnification. Often though because pinworms are so common, you can get a prescription without doing this. That said, there are over the counter and natural treatments you can get as well.

How Do I Get Rid of Pinworms?

  • First, you need an internal remedy to kill the suckers. You can get Reese’s Pinworm  medication at the local pharmacy or online pretty easily (it’s much cheaper on Amazon, but if you need it NOW, you may have to go to the store.) You should definitely dose your whole family to be safe. You don’t need asymptomatic family members passing it back and forth. There are also prescription medicines you can get from your doctor. They all have varying effectiveness, and for some reason one doesn’t work, you may need to try another. Whatever you use, you need to retreat 2 weeks later since the eggs can survive that long outside of the body and you could be reinfected.
  • Another remedy we have used with success is simply diatomaceous earth , of the quality for consumption. We mixed a tablespoon or so per person into smoothies daily for about 4 days, and repeated 2 weeks later. We have also used this wormwood combination for an extra boost. I threw as much as I could at these suckers! No one wants worms living in them. Ew.
  • During and after treatment, it’s also wise to beef up your probiotic intake, or start if you don’t already take them regularly. There’s some evidence to suggest poor gut health make you more prone to parasitic infections. I really like and trust this brand, and they make a yummy chewable probiotic for kids. They also have some really potent capsules formulated specifically for the needs of men and women. If your child can swallow capsules or they like smoothies, I would suggest getting an adult strength probiotic capsule and sprinkling it in so you get a higher count of probiotics and more benefit.
  • Now for the hard part. Those little eggs can end up in bedding, clothing, and fluffed around the room. So gross, I know! And they can survive for about 2 weeks in our home, which is why we repeat treatment.
  • You have to wash all the bedding the day you first treat.
  • You should also vacuum and dust so you get up as many of those little suckers as you can.
  • The infected person(s) needs to shower each morning for several days to wash off any possible newly laid eggs. The remedies don’t kill them all instantly, as they have to work their way through the digestive tract to do their job. Remember, the worms lay their eggs on the rectum at night, so they need to be washed off. Also, should be obvious, but they need fresh undies too! And fresh towels for drying. No reusing towels during treatment.
  • Hand washing!! Make sure your children are washing well with soap and water after using the bathroom. This helps a lot with preventing reinfection, and since we all know kids hardly wash their hands (reality…), this will be a good practice in general. Make sure they give a good scrub before eating too in case their hands were in their pants scratching!

Have you had the misfortune of dealing with pinworms? Tell me about your experience and what other remedies have worked for you!