Pinworms are a type of little worm that commonly infects the intestines, especially
in kids. Many of the kids in your school have probably had pinworms at one time, and
the worms are nothing to be afraid of.
It's gross to think about, but anybody can get pinworms. To learn how to stay worm-free,
How Do Kids Get Pinworms?
Pinworms are very small — about as long as a staple. Their eggs get inside
the body through the mouth after you touch something that's contaminated with pinworm
eggs, then touch your hands to your mouth.
After getting in your mouth, the eggs pass through the digestive
system. The eggs hatch in the small intestine, and the baby worms grow and move
on to the large intestine. There, the pinworms grab onto the wall of the intestine.
After a few weeks, the female pinworms move to the end of the large intestine, and
they come out of the body at night to lay their eggs around the anus (where poop comes
The amount of time that passes from when someone swallows the eggs until the worms
lay new eggs is about 1 to 2 months.
Pinworm eggs can end up on anything touched by someone who has pinworms: on a counter
in the kitchen, in a bed, or on a desk at school. The eggs also can be on clothes,
towels, or eating utensils. The eggs can live for about 2 weeks, and when you accidentally
touch them and then put your fingers in your mouth, you can swallow the eggs without
even knowing it.
Kids in school get pinworms easily because they spend a lot of time with other
kids, who may have pinworms. They might touch something with pinworm eggs on it when
they're playing with other kids and eat the eggs without even knowing it. The eggs
are so light that a few may even end up in the air, where they could be swallowed
when you breathe in. This is not a common way of getting pinworms, though.
If you already have pinworms, you could swallow more eggs if you scratch around
your bottom and then put your fingers in your mouth.
How Do I Know If I Have Pinworms?
If you have pinworms, you might see the worms in the toilet after you go to the
bathroom. They look like tiny pieces of white thread. You also might see them on your
underwear when you wake up in the morning. But the pinworm eggs are too tiny to be
seen without a microscope.
The itching from the pinworms might wake you up in the middle of the night and
make you squirm a lot. So if you're itchy and sore on your bottom, tell your mom or
dad. And if you see worms in your underwear or in the toilet, you should tell a parent
right away. You should know, though, that some people with pinworms don't have any
symptoms at all.
What Will the Doctor Do?
If you might have pinworms, your mom or dad will take you to the doctor
so you can get medicine to get rid of the worms.
To see if you have pinworms, the doctor may have your parent help you do an easy
test at home. Your parent will place a small piece of tape on the skin around your
anus at night or when you first get up in the morning, then take it off and bring
it to the doctor. It doesn't hurt at all, and the doctor will look at the tape under
a microscope to see if there are any eggs on it. He or she might also take some samples
from under your fingernails to see if there are any eggs.
If you have pinworms, don't worry. They don't cause any harm (just itching!), and
it won't take long to get rid of them. Your doctor will give you some medicine to
take right away and then again 2 weeks later to be sure the worms are gone. The doctor
can also give you a cream to help stop the itching.
Because it's easy to pass pinworms on to other people, the doctor may want the
other people in your house to take medicine, too. Your mom or dad will probably want
to wash everyone's sheets, towels, and pajamas to get rid of any eggs that might still
How Do I Keep Pinworms Away?
The best way to keep from getting pinworms is to wash
your hands with warm, soapy water before you eat, after you play outside, and
after you use the toilet. Try to keep your fingernails short and clean, and don't
scratch around your bottom or bite your nails.
Because pinworm eggs can hang around in clothes, be sure to change your underwear
every day and always put on a clean pair. Ask someone to wash your pajamas every few
With these simple steps, you can keep the worms away!