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by Katie Hodgkins

Threadworms: Treating The Itchy Critters!

If your child struggles with an itchy bottom, particularly at night, they may have a case of threadworms!

Before you recoil in horror, bear in mind that this is very, very common in children, just as much as head lice. It’s nothing to worry about and is very easily treated! We’ve taken a look at the best advice from Public Health England for threadworms to help our mummy and daddy followers to deal with the itchy critters.

Firstly, what are threadworms and what are the symptoms?

Threadworms are are also known as pinworms, or just worms. They’re very small little parasitic worms that infect the large intestine and lay eggs. They’re the most common type of parasitic worm infection in the UK especially in kids under the age of 10. They’re pretty contagious too so if your child has them you should keep an eye on yourself and your other kids and ensure you all take treatment.

The term ‘parasitic’ may worry you, but don’t let the term make you panic! It isn’t serious or harmful. It’s also nothing to be embarrassed about, as they’re so common and contagious. The symptoms are;

  • Intense, uncomfortable itching around the bottom (potentially around the vagina in young girls), more often at night as this is when the worms lay their eggs. The mucus they secrete causes the itching.
  • Issues sleeping; this may show itself as behavioural issues and problems at school.
  • You may notice worms on clothes or bed sheets if any escape. You may also notice them in your little one’s poo – the worms are white and about 1cm long.

Uncommonly, in severe and persistent infestations, your child may lose their appetite, lose weight, get an infection from scratching, and bed wet, so it’s important to seek medical advice if conventional treatment isn’t working.

How can I treat threadworms?

Luckily, they are VERY treatable! As worms are so contagious, the entire family will need to be treated to stop the infestation in its tracks.

You will all need a single doze of mebendazole which kills the worms. You can take another dose in two weeks if there are any stragglers. During the treatment and for a few weeks after, Public Health England advises that you practice very strict hygiene procedures as the eggs can survive for up to 3 weeks!

  • Wash your hands thoroughly, especially under the nails
  • Thoroughly clean the kitchen and bathroom
  • Vacuum regularly
  • Discourage nail biting as this is a common way they are spread; a child itches, washes their hands but the eggs are missed as they’re under the nail, and then ingested through nail biting which reinfects! Keeping nails trimmed is also helpful.
  • Hot wash all clothing and bed sheets.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, tell your pharmacist as mebendazole isn’t advised in pregnancy. They’re also not advised in under two’s. If these apply to you, you need to see your GP rather than getting this medication from a pharmacist.

How can I prevent threadworms?

It is possible to deter these nasty critters! Public Health England advises the following as the best ways of preventing reinfestation…

  • See your GP if breastfeeding, pregnant or treating a child under the age of two.
  • Tell school so that they can warn other parents – they can then take measures too, eliminating the issue on a wider scale.
  • Practice good hand hygiene and teach your kids to do the same.
  • If you’re a childcare provider, use gloves when doing nappies or bottom wiping.
  • Clean toys and areas lots of kids may come into contact with.
  • Keep nails short, trim and clean.
  • Don’t allow naked sleeping if infected or recently infected – pants and pyjamas can catch any escaping worms and eggs!
  • As hard as it may be, encourage your kids to avoid scratching as this can make the issue worse and more long standing. Some parents say a cool wash cloth gently wiped over the area helps ease the itch gently.
  • Keep kitchen and bathroom surfaces clean and disinfected.

These are all simple, affordable solutions and should help you to beat the nasty critters! Remember, there’s nothing to worry about.

Tell us your experiences of threadworms in the comments – what do you do to prevent them?

Love from Katie & Team BBY! Xx

Katie Hodgkins Image
I'm Katie, and I'm a mama, wife, and freelance content creator for Bump, Baby & You. I also help to run our thriving online community over in our Facebook support group, as well as volunteering for my local branch of the National Childbirth Trust. I'm a busy bee and enjoy keeping active, cooking, writing, and fun days out with my little family. My special topics of interest are... autism (as me and my son are both autistic), science, all things parenting and pregnancy related, and The Handmaids Tale!
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