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PINWORMS (the uninvited and unwanted guest)

With all the talk of the Flu virus and the constant debate regarding whether to get a flu shot (please do), I thought I would discuss a topic that does not get much press. The dreaded and lets face it rather disgusting PINWORM. For those of us that have had the experience of a child crying out in the night "Daddy my bum is itchy!", or those that have had a physician explain the sordid details of a pinworm infection, this information is for you.

Pinworm is the most common parasitic worm infection in the United States, with the majority occurring in children. Infections are caused by worm-like parasites that infect the intestines and rectal area. Pinworm infections are spread person-person by ingesting pinworm eggs that have contaminated fingers, bedding, clothing and other items. These eggs will hatch in the small intestine, then move to the large intestine where they mate and move to the anal area where females can deposit 10 to 15 thousand eggs.

Now for the fun stuff, symptoms:

-Most likely there will be intense itching around the rectum (see "Daddy my bum is itchy")

-Discomfort and skin irritation around the anus and possibly vagina

-Pinworms can often by seen on the anal skin or in stool, they are white and can be seen with the naked eye, however this needs to be a stealthy operation with a flashlight and nerves of steel.

Prevention is the key and can be difficult with small children. Diligent hand washing after bathroom breaks and cleaning under the fingernails, keeping fingernails short and not biting the nails will also help reduce the chance of contacting these parasites.

If prevention is not effective and infection is evident, do not fear there are rather simple options such as medication for a quick riding of these guests:

-The first option is a prescription medication called Vermox. You take a single dose of 100mg and it can be very effective. The down side is that it is a prescription item and you will need to see a physician.

-The second effective option can be purchased without a prescription at any pharmacy. This product is called Combantrin and is also a single dose based on the weight of the patient. It is a chalky product that can cause some stomach issues (don't ask how I know), but it does work on getting rid of our tiny friends.

The thought of Pinworms can humble even the toughest character, however they are more of a nuisance than a serious problem. Simple steps such as proper bathroom hygiene can diminish the chances of infection. The positive aspect of pinworm infection is an extra clean house due to frantic scrubbing and a much needed conversation about proper hand washing .

If Pinworms show up uninvited in your house, don't be embarrassed. They are a common and easily eradicated problem. Just remember, worms are better on your fishing hook than in your intestine!

Now go and wash your hands.

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