If your child suffers from itching around the anus, it could be an indication of pinworms. These are tiny white worms, about a quarter of an inch long, that commonly affect toddlers and older children. The commonest warning sign of pinworm infestation is an annoying itch around the anus that seems to worsen at night.
Children usually are infected by picking up pinworm eggs on their hands, and then swallowing the eggs when they put their hand in the mouths. The eggs hatch inside the intestine from where female worms come out to lay eggs on the anus. Pinworms do not pose a health hazard to your child, nor does an infestation indicate a lack of hygiene.
If you suspect that your child is infected, you can:
- Physically examine your child’s rectum at night using a flashlight, to see if you can spot the worms.
- Look for their presence 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 for pinworms is confirmed, the pediatrician will prescribe medication to kill the worms. 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 your child:
- Keep your child’s nails well trimmed to prevent 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.