What is enterobiasis?
Enterobiasis is a condition where your child has worms inside his intestines (bowels). These worms are also called pinworms, and can only live in humans. They are thin and white, and can grow up to one centimeter long. At night, these worms go out your child's anus (rear end) and lay tiny eggs around it. His anus may feel very itchy, and he may not be able to help scratching it. The eggs may stick to his fingernails, clothes, bed sheets, or other objects he touches. Others may get infected by touching your child's infected hands, or other items infected by your child. Having your child's enterobiasis treated early will relieve his symptoms, and prevent the spread of pinworms to others.
What causes enterobiasis?
Your child can have enterobiasis after he swallows pinworm eggs. He may get pinworm eggs when he stays with other children or adults with enterobiasis. He may also get eggs when he touches bedding, clothes, or toilet seats that have eggs on them. Your child may also get infected by breathing in dust that holds the eggs. The pinworm eggs may get into the air by coming loose from bedding and clothing. These eggs will grow into pinworms in his intestines, and may stay there for months. The female pinworms lay eggs on your child's anus or near it. Your child may scratch his anus, and swallow these eggs by putting his fingers in his mouth.
What may increase my child's risk of having enterobiasis?
Your child's risk of having the condition increases when he finger sucks or bites his nails. Not washing his hands before eating and not keeping his body clean may also increase his risk. Other family members or friends with pinworms that are not treated may keep re-infecting themselves.
What are the signs and symptoms of enterobiasis?
The pinworms may only cause itching around your child's anus. The itching is usually the worst at night. You may be able to see adult pinworms around your child's anus. Your child may have no symptoms, or he may have any of the following:
- Decreased appetite, and losing weight without trying.
- Irritability and trouble sleeping.
- Nausea (upset tummy), or vomiting (throwing up).
- Pain in his abdomen (tummy), or diarrhea (loose, watery stools).
- Pain when urinated or bed wetting.
- Redness or bleeding around your child's anus.
- Vaginal infections in females, or infections of the urine passageways.
How is enterobiasis diagnosed?
Your child's caregiver will ask you and your child about the symptoms he is feeling. He will ask when they started and how bad they get. He will do a physical exam to look for other problems. Ask your child's caregiver for more information on the following:
- Body fluid and stool exam: Your child's stool, urine, or vaginal fluid may be tested under a microscope to look for pinworm eggs.
- Colonoscopy: This test is done to look at your child's colon. A tube with a light on the end will be put into his anus, and then moved forward into his colon.
- Saline swabs: Swabs wet with saline (fluid) are used to wipe around your child's anus. The swab will be sent to a lab to test for pinworm eggs.
- Skin scrapings: Eggs may also be found on the skin under your child's fingernails.
- Tape test: This test can show if there are any pinworms or eggs around your child's anus. This test is usually done at night or right after your child wakes in the morning. You or your child's caregiver will use a piece of clear adhesive tape. The sticky side of the tape will be patted around your child's anus. Your child's caregiver will then look for eggs using a microscope. This test may be done for three or more days.
How is enterobiasis treated?
Your child may need any of the following:
- Anti-helminthics: This medicine kills the pinworms inside your child's intestines. This medicine stops the pinworms from laying eggs. Other family members may also be given this medicine even if they do not have symptoms.
- Medicated creams: This medicine may be given to treat redness, pain, and swelling at your child's anus. Ask your child's caregiver for information on when and how much to use.
What are the risks of having enterobiasis?
Enterobiasis may cause your child's intestines to swell and become painful. Sometimes, your child's intestines may get ulcers (holes) and causes food and liquids to leak inside his abdomen. He may have bleeding from these ulcers. Your child may have pain and swelling of his appendix, or infection in his urine passageways. Your child may not get enough nutrients from the foods he eats. He may become weak and lose weight. Enterobiasis may come back even after your child had been treated.
How can I help my child avoid having enterobiasis?
You may do any of the following:
- Change your child's clothes, underpants, and bed sheets daily. Be very careful when cleaning them to decrease the chance of spreading eggs to other things.
- Give your child a bath after he wakes up every morning. Use a clean towel or washcloth every time. Wash his anus with soap and water.
- Keep your child's nails short and clean, and wash his hands before he holds or eats food.
- Tell other family members to always wash their hands before and after taking care of your child.
- Wash your hands after changing your child's diapers or helping him in the bathroom.
When should I call my child's caregiver?
Call your child's caregiver if:
- Your child has a decreased appetite.
- Your child has a fever.
- Your child has diarrhea (loose, watery stools).
- Your child is not sleeping.
- Your child's anus becomes red and painful.
- You have any questions or concerns about your child's condition, medicine, or care.
When should I seek immediate help?
Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- Your child is not gaining weight and feels weak.
- Your child has blood in his stools.
- Your child has very bad pain in his abdomen.
You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child.
© 2013 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of the Blausen Databases or Truven Health Analytics.
The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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