Pinworms in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Pinworms are a type of parasite. They live in the lower digestive system of humans. They survive on nutrients from the food we eat.

People are most likely to get pinworms if they swallow their eggs. This can happen if a person with pinworms scratches around the anus. Then the person gets eggs on his or her hands or under the fingernails. You can then get pinworms if you touch that person or if you touch something he or she touched.

Some people feel embarrassed about having "worms." But pinworm infections can happen to anyone and are common in children. They don't mean that your child isn't clean.

It's easy to treat a pinworm infection. If more than one person in your home gets pinworms, or if your child's infection keeps coming back, make sure to treat everyone in your home.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Be safe with medicines. Have your child take medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think your child is having a problem with his or her medicine.
  • Wash your hands and your child's hands well and often.
  • Cut your child's fingernails short, and keep them short. This can prevent eggs from sticking under the nails.
  • Wash all clothes, towels, and bedding. Do this often, and especially on the first day after treatment. Dry them in a heated dryer, if you can.
  • Teach your child not to scratch. Itching around the anus usually happens at night. Your child can wear gloves or tight clothes to prevent scratching.
  • Bathe your child carefully every day. Be sure to clean the skin around the anus. This will remove pinworm eggs. Showers may be better than baths. This is because your child has less chance of getting water that has pinworm eggs into his or her mouth.
  • Do not fan or fluff your child's bedding. This can release pinworm eggs into the air. You can swallow the eggs when you breathe through your mouth.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child with pinworms develops other symptoms, such as:
    • A fever or belly pain.
    • Redness, tenderness, or swelling in the genital area.
    • Itching in the genital area or vagina.
    • Pain when urinating.
    • A frequent or urgent need to urinate.
    • Lack of control of urination.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your doctor gave your child medicine, and the pinworms have not cleared up as expected (usually within 4 to 6 weeks).
  • Your child is having side effects from medicine for pinworms.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.