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Threadworms are a type of parasite which can live in the lower intestines. They’re very contagious and can cause itching around the anus or vagina.
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Threadworms, also known as pinworms, belong to a group of parasites called roundworms. They use the human body to survive and reproduce, and live in the large intestine for up to six weeks.
The side effects caused by threadworms are caused when the female exits the anus each night to lay eggs. This is what causes the itching sensation around the bottom. Once the eggs hatch more worms are produced and the infection cycle continues. These worms can live outside of the body for up to two weeks which makes the risk of transmission very high if treatment is not immediately sought.
Threadworms are extremely contagious. Its eggs can be transferred through surfaces that are likely to come into contact with people. Regular washing of these surfaces and cleaning under your fingernails can help to stop the spread of this infection.
Threadworm infections are more common amongst children under the age of 10. However, it can be picked up by anyone. It’s believed that children pick up the infection easier due to their reduced hygiene awareness. The fact that toys and equipment are shared in childcare facilities also contributes to them being more prone to infection.
When one person in a household gets a threadworm there is a strong possibility that everyone else in the house will get it too. It’s for this reason that we recommend whole families receive treatment at the same time and not just the person who has contracted it.
Threadworms are one of the most common parasitic worm infestations. It’s not something that you should worry about though. Symptoms are rarely severe, they’re just irritating. Treating this parasite is also very easy. If you have any questions about how to treat it then have a chat with our clinician for further information.
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Threadworms are spread when their eggs are ingested. This commonly happens when the eggs get under your fingernails from surfaces or food and are then swallowed. Once swallowed, these eggs will then hatch in the large intestine. The newly hatched worms will then grow into adults which lay their own eggs and the whole cycle starts again.
At night, female threadworms exit the anus to lay eggs around it. Because this causes itching, people tend to scratch their bottom, which gets the eggs under their fingernails. These people then spread the eggs when they touch other surfaces. The eggs can live for up to two weeks outside the body, so the risk of infection is very high.
If you have threadworms you’ll usually be able to see them in your stools or on your bedsheets. The worms look like a thin, white thread and are around one centimetre in length. They tend to cause itching around the vagina or anus, particularly at night. This itchiness can wake you up. Less common symptoms can include bed-wetting, weight loss and irritated skin around the anus or vagina.
It’s rare that threadworms lead to any serious problems. The main ones you’ll notice are irritated skin around the anus from frequent scratching or sleep problems if the itching regularly wakes you up during the night.
Even though this might not sound severe, it’s still important that you get treatment for your threadworms as soon as they are diagnosed. This minimises the risk of the worm spreading to other people. Treating threadworm early also lessens the risk of it spreading to other areas of the body and causing diseases. Although this risk is rare, it is still worth mitigating.
The most common medication for threadworm is mebendazole. This works by preventing the threadworms from absorbing sugar, which should kill them within a few days. But it’s important that alongside the medication, an important hygiene regimen is followed in order to prevent reinfection.
The best treatment is mebendazole. Mebendazole is also known as Vermox, which is just a branded version. However, this treatment can vary depending on your medical history; so don’t worry if you’re prescribed a different form of medication.
It also helps to carefully clean your household and commonly used items such as towels and beddings. Wearing bedclothes is also advised. These bedclothes should then be washed in the morning.
Threadworms only have a short life cycle of around six weeks, so they will die on their own without treatment. The problem is that their eggs can live for up to two weeks outside of the body, so your chances of avoiding reinfection without treatment are very low.
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