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Q&A:
What do I do about my 27-month-old's pinworms?

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Question


My 27-month-old son was diagnosed with pinworms. Two days before that he had been playing in a mud puddle in his sandals, and the next day we saw pinworms in the shallow end of the puddle. Where do pinworms come from? Is there any way to kill them or at least help prevent reinfection of worms from the outside? (I understand the importance of handwashing.) Also, when we as a family were treated, the prescription information stated that the linens in the house and toilets/baths needed to be changed or cleaned daily. . . for how long?

Answer


Pinworms are very small white worms that are typically seen in the morning around kids' bottoms, particularly the anal opening, and cause itching and irritation. They do not cause teeth grinding, bedwetting, weight loss, or hair loss as some old wives' tales suggest. In general, kids get pinworms from other kids or adults where there is fecal soiling of the hands, usually invisible but related to incomplete handwashing. Shared bedding, toys, and clothing can also be a route. Kids scratch their bottoms because these critters create a lot of irritation, and the scratching also gets the worms and eggs on their hands. This infection is common, especially among preschoolers, affecting 5 to 15 percent of households in the United States. Household members and day care buddies should all be treated at the same time with oral prescription medicine. Wash your child's bedding (but not everyone else's unless they are infected) each morning for two weeks. Make sure he gets a morning bath and clean underwear or diapers very frequently. Cut his fingernails very short. Handwashing for household members is the key, particularly after diaper changes. Wipe out the tub after his solo bath and wash the towel afterwards. Reinfection is common but with these measures, you will get these pests out of your life. They don't cause serious harm, just a lot of irritation around the bottom and within a family.  
 
 
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