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What is enterobiasis?

Enterobiasis is a pinworm infection. Pinworms are small, thin, white worms that infect the intestines. At night, these worms enter your child's anus and lay tiny eggs around it.

What causes enterobiasis?

Your child may get pinworm eggs from 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. Your child may scratch his anus, and swallow these eggs by putting his fingers in his mouth. This can cause the pinworms to stay in his intestines for months.

What are the signs and symptoms of enterobiasis?

Your child may not have any symptoms, or he may have any of the following:

  • Itching around the anus that is worse at night
  • Irritability and trouble sleeping
  • Decreased appetite, and losing weight without trying
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bed wetting or pain during urination
  • Redness or bleeding around your child's anus
  • Urinary tract infection or vaginal infections in females

How is enterobiasis diagnosed?

Your child's healthcare provider will ask about your child's symptoms. He may also examine the area around your child's anus. Your child may need any of the following:

  • A tape 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. A piece of clear adhesive tape will be patted around your child's anus. Your child's healthcare provider will then look for eggs on the tape using a microscope. This test may need to be done for 3 or more days.
  • Saline swabs are used to wipe around your child's anus. The swab will be sent to a lab to test for pinworm eggs.
  • Skin scrapings taken from under your child's fingernails may also be tested for pinworm eggs.
  • A body fluid or stool exam may be used to find pinworm eggs. A sample of your child's bowel movement, urine, or vaginal fluid is viewed under a microscope.

How is enterobiasis treated?

Enterobiasis is treated with medicine that 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 may also be given to treat redness, pain, and swelling of your child's anus.

How can the spread of enterobiasis be prevented?

  • Change and wash your child's clothes, underpants, and bed sheets daily. Do not shake the clothes or bedding before you wash it because this may spread the eggs.
  • 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 they take care of your child.
  • Wash your hands after you change your child's diapers or help him in the bathroom.

When should I contact my child's healthcare provider?

  • Your child has a decreased appetite.
  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has diarrhea.
  • Your child has trouble sleeping.
  • Your child's anus becomes red and painful.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • Your child is not gaining weight and feels weak.
  • Your child has blood in his bowel movements.
  • Your child has severe abdominal pain.

Care Agreement

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. 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.

© 2015 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 A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.