Threadworms, also known as pinworms,are tiny parasitic worms thatinfect thelarge intestine of humans.

Threadwormsare a common type ofworminfection in the UK, particularly in children under the age of10.

The wormsare white and look like small pieces of thread. You may notice them around your child'sbottom or intheir poo.

They don't always cause symptoms, but peopleoften experience itchiness around their bottomor vagina. It can beworse at night and disturb sleep.

In these circumstances, the recommendedtreatment isusually different.

How threadworms are spread

Threadworms lay their eggs around an infected person's anus (bottom), usually at night. Along with the eggs, the worm also secretes a mucus that causes itching.

If the eggs get stuck on the person's fingertips when they scratch, they can be transferred to their mouth or on to surfaces and clothes. If other people touch an infected surface, they can thentransfer the eggs to their mouth.

Threadworm eggs can survive for up to two weeks before hatching. If the eggs hatch around the anus, the newborn worms can re-enter the bowel. Eggs that have been swallowed will hatch inside the intestine. After two weeks, the worms reach adult size and begin to reproduce, starting the cycle again.

Treating threadworms

If you or your child has threadworms, everyone in your household will need to be treatedas there's a highrisk of the infection spreading. This includes those who don't have any symptoms of an infection.

For most people, treatment will involve taking a single dose of a medication calledmebendazole to kill the worms. If necessary, another dose can be taken after two weeks.

During treatment and for a few weeks afterwards, it's also important to follow strict hygiene measures to avoid spreading the threadworm eggs. This includes regularly vacuuming your house and thoroughly washing your bathroom and kitchen.

If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, hygiene measures are usually recommended without medication. This is alsooften the case for young children.

Kitchen and bathroom surfaces should be kept clean.

If your child is infected, encouraging them not to scratch the affected area around their anus or vagina will help prevent reinfection and reduce the risk of the infection spreading to others.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 29 Nov 2016