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The Informed Parent


by John H. Samson, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Published on Jul. 14, 2000

Recently a grandmother accompanied her daughter and grandchild in to see me. She was positive that the problem her five-year-old Susie was enduring was a case of worms. The child had been waking up in the middle of the night, thrashing and crying. She was difficult to calm down. And this had been going on night after night.

I had to agree with this wise woman. This was a clear case of pinworms. These are small, round worms, usually less than one-eighth inch long. They resemble a piece of white lint or thread. They migrate out of the rectum at night and cause severe itching, thus causing irritation to the anal and vaginal area. This is what wakes the children up.

Pinworms come from other humans who are themselves infected. The eggs of the worms are laid around the anus and genital area. They are transmitted from there to a person’s hands. Hand-to-hand contact transmits them from person –to-person. The eggs are easily transferred to a patient’s mouth if fingers are put up to the mouth. The eggs pass through the intestine, hatch and produce more worms. And the cycle goes on to affect other children.

The best way to diagnose it is by looking with a flashlight after the child has been asleep for one to two hours. You will frequently see them between the buttocks as they make their way to the vaginal area to lay eggs.

Contacting your physician for a prescription will usually rid the intestine of these unwanted guests with one dose.

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