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Pinworms - Topic Overview

How are pinworms diagnosed?

To find out if you have pinworms, your doctor will ask about your past health and check the skin around your anus.

The doctor may ask you to do a transparent tape test at home. To do the test, you press a piece of clear, sticky tape on the skin around your anus in the morning before you get up. The doctor will put the tape under a microscope to look for pinworm eggs. You might need to repeat this test a few times.

How are they treated?

You can treat pinworms with over-the-counter or prescription medicine that kills the worms. Treatment can help keep you from getting infected again and from spreading the infection to other people.

You will probably need two doses, 2 weeks apart. That's because the medicine kills the worms but not the eggs. The second dose will kill any worms that hatch after the first treatment.

Pinworm medicine may not be safe for children younger than 2 and women who are pregnant or breast-feeding. So to reduce their risk of infection, a doctor may recommend that all other household members be treated with medicine.

Call your doctor if:

  • Medicine hasn't cleared up the infection.
  • The medicine is causing side effects.
  • You have new or worse symptoms.

How can you keep from spreading pinworms or getting them again?

Pinworms spread easily and often come back. To reduce your chances of spreading the infection or getting infected again:

  • Wash your hands carefully and often. Teach your children to do the same, especially after they use the toilet and before they handle food.
  • Keep your fingernails short, and don't scratch the itch. Wearing gloves at night may help prevent scratching.
  • Bathe or shower every day.
  • Don't share or reuse towels or washcloths.
  • Change your underwear and bedding each morning.
  • Wash clothes, bedding, and towels regularly. Dry them in a hot dryer.

If anyone in your household gets pinworms again, the whole family may need to take medicine.

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 30, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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