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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pinworm Panic - Are Your Kids a Host?

Does your child seem especially whiney lately? Does he/she cry and complain at night about uncomfortable rectal itching? Is she/he a thumb sucker or a nail biter? Then, there's a good chance your child may have pinworms.

Pinworms are tiny wormlike parasites that resemble very thin white threads about a quarter to a half of an inch in length. They live in the dirt and are plentiful in our earthly environment. Pinworms lay eggs wherever they are living.

When children play outside in the dirt and then suck their thumbs or bite their nails or pick their nose...you get the idea, the eggs from these parasites can be transferred inside their body by swallowing the eggs. Their entire life cycle lasts anywhere from two to eight weeks.

Once ingested, the pinworm eggs hatch inside your child's small intestine and the baby worms begin their journey through the intestinal tract. When the tiny worms reach the colon, they attach themselves to the mucosa that lines the rectal walls and live on...well...poop.

At night, the females travel to the opening of the rectum to lay eggs on the outside of the anus. She does this because she knows her eggs will need oxygen to survive and hatch. The crawling sensation of these female pinworms is what makes your child so miserable and itchy when he/she is trying to sleep. Pinworm eggs hatch after about two hours and can survive outside the body for up to two weeks.

Heaven forbid that the child scratches this area, because most children do not know the importance of washing their hands at this point and reinfection and infestation of pinworms is now almost a certainty if left untreated. Soon after the females lay their eggs, they die, but the newly hatched worms can crawl back inside the anus and live out their happy life.

In many cases, the eggs can be transported either by the females or by human hands to underwear, pajamas, and even the sheets and blankets. Unwittingly, in the morning, when mothers shake out the blankets and sheets to make the bed, the eggs can now float on specs of dust to be breathed in by everyone in the household and infection takes place in them.

This is why treating the entire family to rid them of pinworms is important. Othewise, each member can reinfect the others. Medical treatment for pinworms consists of a single dose of either prescription or over-the-counter medicine. Reese's and Pin-X are examples of some over-the-counter medications for pinworms. A two week follow up dose is recommended to kill any surviving pinworms.

Natural remedies for curing a pinworm infection include eating pumpkin seeds and food grade Diatomaceous earth (DE). These remedies work to improve bowel movements by flushing out most or all of the worms and the DE can be lethal to pinworms.

Good hygiene is also important to keep pinworms out of your body. Bathing in the morning to remove eggs and worms, washing clothing and bedding and treating household members is also critical to prevent reinfestation.

Remember, it's no shame to get pinworms, but it can be shameful to keep them.

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