In this section
Threadworms look like white threads, about 8mm
long. They live in the lower intestine, but come out of the bottom
at night or in the early morning hours to lay their eggs in the
area between the buttocks. This causes very annoying itching in the
area especially at night.
Threadworms are spread by children scratching
their bottom and carrying the worm eggs back to their mouth with
their hands. They can also be spread indirectly, in food, dust, or
other articles. The eggs can survive up to two weeks outside the
body. Once these eggs are swallowed, they hatch in the small
intestine and travel down.
Threadworm infection is not usually serious
and easily cured with medication. Repeat infections are very common
and there are precautions you need to take to help prevent this and
the spread of threadworms to others.
Human beings cannot and do not catch
threadworms from animals.
If your child has threadworms, they may :
In girls there may be redness and itching
around the vagina.
You may be able to see threadworms if you
examine your child at night. Take a torch, separate your child's
buttocks and look carefully around the anus (and opening to the
vagina in girls). You might see tiny white threads that may be
A diagnosis of threadworms can also be made by
the "sticky tape test". You can get this tape kit from your GP. Do
this test in the morning before your child has a bath or has a poo.
Separate the buttocks, applying a piece of sticky transparent tape
(eg scotch tape), to the area just outside of the anus and between
the buttocks. Stick the tape on the skin, remove it and stick it
onto the glass slide included in the kit from your doctor. Your
doctor will examine the slide for worms or worm eggs.
If your GP thinks your child has threadworms,
they will suggest your child has treatment without any further
The good news is that threadworm infection,
though very annoying, is not generally serious and is easily cured
Your doctor will advise you on the best
treatment. Drugs such as pyrantel (Combantrin) or mebendazole
(Banworm) are very safe and often recommended. Special precautions
may be given for children under 2 years of age and during
It is recommended for the child to shower on
the night the medicine is given and again the next morning to
remove eggs laid during the night.
Unfortunately, repeat infection is very
common. To help reduce this and to prevent the threadworms from
spreading to others, you can take the following precautions:
Developed by RCH department of General Medicine. First published:
2003. Updated June 2008
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