Pinworms are very tiny, threadlike and white in colour. Pinworms infections are more common in children than in adults, and occur especially between the ages of 5 and 10 years.
They are usually spread by human to human contact, and are more prevalent in crowded living conditions. Pinworms are found only amongst humans and never in animals.
Tiny eggs of the pinworm are laid in the anal or peri-anal areas. These are quite itchy, and when someone with an infestation, scratches that area, the eggs get under the fingernails from where they are transferred to anything they touch, such as their bedding, clothing and toys. When someone touches these objects, the eggs are transferred to their hands and may be ingested, leading to a spread of the infection.
An itchy rectal area, especially at night, is the most common symptom, since the female pinworm crawls out of the anus, and lays her eggs during the night
Although pinworms do not cause any serious disease, they can be very itchy and annoying. Besides, scratching in that delicate area, may break the skin and lead to subsequent bacterial infections.
No preparation is needed for this test. If pinworm eggs show up in the slide, it confirms a pinworm infection.
Your doctor will usually prescribe a tablet of mebendazole or albendazole, which kills the pinworms. A single dose is usually sufficient. It may be followed by another dose after a couple of weeks, if the infection has been very severe.
Since pinworms infections can easily pass back and forth between members of a family, doctors usually treat the entire family.