Pinworm Infection

Disease database

Pinworm infection, also known as enterobiasis, is a common parasitic infection that affects millions of people worldwide, particularly children. It is caused by a tiny, white, thread-like worm called Enterobius vermicularis. While pinworm infections are generally harmless, they can cause discomfort and inconvenience. In this article, we will explore the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for pinworm infection.

Itching around the anus

One of the most common symptoms of pinworm infection is itching around the anus. This itching is often worse at night when the female worms lay their eggs. The itching can be intense and persistent, leading to discomfort and sleep disturbances.

Insomnia and irritability

Due to the itching and discomfort caused by pinworm infection, individuals may experience insomnia and irritability. The constant itching can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep, leading to fatigue and irritability during the day.

Abdominal pain

In some cases, pinworm infection can cause abdominal pain. This pain is usually mild and may be accompanied by bloating or cramping. It is important to note that abdominal pain can have various causes, so it is essential to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis.

Nausea, vomiting, and weight loss

In rare cases, severe pinworm infections can lead to nausea, vomiting, and weight loss. These symptoms are more common in individuals with weakened immune systems or those who have a heavy infestation of pinworms. If you experience these symptoms, it is crucial to seek medical attention.


Pinworm infection can sometimes cause diarrhea, particularly in severe cases. Diarrhea is characterized by loose, watery stools and can lead to dehydration if not properly managed. It is important to stay hydrated and consult a healthcare professional if diarrhea persists.

Causes of pinworm infection

Pinworm infection is highly contagious and can spread easily from person to person. The primary mode of transmission is through the ingestion of pinworm eggs. These eggs can be found on contaminated surfaces such as bedding, clothing, or toys. When a person touches these surfaces and then touches their mouth, they can unknowingly ingest the eggs, leading to infection.

Treatment options

Pinworm infection can be treated effectively with medication. The most commonly prescribed medication for pinworm infection is mebendazole or albendazole. These medications work by killing the adult worms and their eggs. It is important to follow the prescribed dosage and complete the full course of treatment to ensure the infection is completely eradicated.

In addition to medication, there are several measures you can take to prevent the spread of pinworm infection:

  • Practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands regularly, especially after using the bathroom and before eating.
  • Keep your nails short and clean to minimize the risk of transferring pinworm eggs from your hands to your mouth.
  • Wash bedding, clothing, and toys in hot water to kill any pinworm eggs that may be present.
  • Vacuum and dust frequently to remove any eggs that may have fallen onto surfaces.
  • Encourage family members to practice good hygiene habits to prevent reinfection.

It is important to note that pinworm infection can easily spread within households, so it is essential to treat all family members, even if they do not exhibit symptoms.

In conclusion, pinworm infection is a common parasitic infection that can cause itching around the anus, insomnia, irritability, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and diarrhea. While the symptoms can be uncomfortable, pinworm infection is generally harmless and can be effectively treated with medication. By practicing good hygiene and taking preventive measures, you can reduce the risk of pinworm infection and prevent its spread within your household.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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