Pinworms (Enterobius vermicularis) are small worms that invade the intestine. They are about 1 centimetre long and white in colour. Pinworms are not harmful and leave no lasting effects.
A child who has pinworms will have a very itchy anus and sometimes will have stomach problems. If you think your child has pinworms, you can check looking at his anus with a flashlight. This can be upsetting for some children. If so, you should wait until he is asleep to check. Also, you should check his stools for pinworms. If present, they will almost look like pieces of white thread and may wiggle.
Pinworms are very contagious, especially in children. Your child may have contracted pinworms at the creche, school, even at the park. All it takes is for a child to handle a toy that was previously played with by an infected child who may have had pinworm eggs on their hands. The eggs, transfer to another child who puts their fingers in their mouth. The eggs are swallowed and hatch in the large intestine. Then the pinworms make their way to the small intestine where they lay more eggs.
Treating pinworms requires medication that will kill the worms. A doctor will often put the entire family on the medication so the pinworms are not transferred back and forth. Additionally, all bedding and clothing must be washed in hot water to kill any worms that are alive.
Although this condition is disturbing to parents, it is not a sign of bad parenting or bad hygiene. Pinworms are actually quite common.