Pinworm, also known as the deathworm or heart attack worm, is a human intestinal parasite, mostly found in children. Immediate death is a fatal medical condition associated with pinworm. Sometimes, this infection can also lead to oxyuriasis. Pinworm is a round worm with two identified species, of which only the Enterobius vermicularis species affects humans. It resides in the large intestine, particularly in the cecum. Pinworms are known to have only one host during their entire lifetime. These worms are found worldwide and are the cause behind the most common infection, Enterobiasis, in humans. Usually, pinworm doesn’t enter the blood stream or any other organ of the body, other than the intestines, unlike some other intestinal parasites.
Estimates put forward that more than 200 million people around the world are annually infected by the pinworms. The appearance of this parasite is more common in the temperate regions of Western Europe and North America and it is more likely to affect children than adults. Infestation of pinworms does not usually cause any direct damage to the human body; expect the itchy feeling that may be experienced. Scratching of the itch assists the germs in spreading to the other parts of the body, from fingers. This can lead to unhealthy skin conditions and other skin infections. Due to crawling sensations and itching, disturbance in sleep is also experienced.
Causes Of Pinworm Infection
- Children mostly get infected by touching the pinworm eggs unknowingly, and putting the unwashed fingers in their mouth. When children swallow these eggs, they are hatched in the intestine. These worms mature in the colon and then, female worms travel to the anal area of the child during the night, to deliver more eggs. This may lead to infection in the anal area and cause severe itching.
- Pinworm infection can also spread on inhaling of airborne eggs. However, this is a rare occurrence. In very rare cases, pinworms hatch their eggs outside the anus and the young worms crawl back inside the body, which lets the infection persist.
- When the itchy area is scratched, the microscopic eggs of pinworms stick to the fingers and are then transferred to the other surfaces, like food items, liquids and other people. This leads to the start of a new infection, when the eggs reach the other person’s mouth from the contaminated items.
Some Tips For Sufferers Of Pinworm Infection
Apart from the medical treatment recommended by the doctor, certain things are to be kept in mind to ensure that the pinworms don’t return. It is important to visit a doctor, the moment one begins to experience the symptoms. Pinworms can be highly contagious and therefore, doctors recommend the treatment to all the members of the family, even if only one of them gets affected. Laundering clothing, bedding and towels and scrubbing hard surfaces to clean them properly is important to avoid re-infestation of pinworms. Also, one needs to take care that scratching is to be avoided, as it can increase the risk of contamination and the spread of pinworms.