If your child suffers from itching around the anus, it could indicate symptoms of pinworms. Pinworms are tiny white worms, about a quarter of an inch long, that commonly affect toddlers and older children. The commonest symptom of pinworm infestation is an annoying itch around the anus that seems to worsen at night.
Children are infected by pinworms when they pick up pinworm eggs on their hands, and then swallow the eggs by putting their hand in their mouth. The pinworm eggs hatch inside the intestine from where female worms come out to lay the eggs on the anus. Pinworms in children do not pose a health hazard, nor does an infestation indicate a lack of hygiene.
If you suspect that your child has pinworms, you can:
- Physically examine your child’s rectum at night using a flashlight, to see if you can spot the pinworms.
- Look for the presence of pinworms in your child’s stools.
- Press a clear sticky tape on your child’s anal skin; if your child has pinworms, your pediatrician will be able to see the eggs that are stuck on the tape.
Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the pediatrician will prescribe medication as treatment for the pinworms. You may also be required to wash your baby’s bedding, clothes, and toys with hot water to destroy the eggs.
These are ways in which you can prevent a pinworm infestation in children:
- Keep your child’s nails well trimmed to prevent pinworm eggs from lodging between them.
- Advocate hygienic habits such as washing hands before eating.
- Do not allow your child to develop habits such as biting nails or sucking fingers.
- Keep the floor of your house clean by vacuuming it regularly.