Does your baby keep itching his or her rectal region (1) continuously and expressed discomfort while doing so? Chances are, your baby is suffering from a pinworm infection. Pinworms are common in babies and toddlers as children like to put everything in their mouth that puts their hygiene at risk.
How To Get Rid Of Pinworms In Babies?
Pinworms normally reside in the gut and can be found near the anus and cause itching in that particular area. That being said, pinworm infection is quite common and can be easily treated with some over the counter medications and home remedies. Let’s find out how and why pinworm infections occur and how to treat them:
What Are Pinworms?
Pinworms, also called threadworms, are small and thin worms residing in the rectal region of babies and adults. In females, pinworms can also be found in the vaginal region. They are thin as a pin and are parasites that lay eggs on the surrounding skin around the anus. They can be about 5-10 mm long and are white in color. The scientific name of this worm is Enterobius vermicularis(2). They spread through the fecal – mouth route so it is important to maintain proper hygiene.
Types of Pinworms
There are three identified species of pinworms but only the above-listed pinworm infects humans. They can be male or female and females are considerably longer as compared to males. They lay translucent eggs on the skin around the anal region and the eggs contain pinworm larva.
Commons Causes of Pinworm Infection
The most common cause of pinworm infection is coming in contact with pinworm eggs. You can get them by touching or ingesting any object infected by pinworms. This infection is very contagious and children are normally exposed to it at school or at the playground.
The eggs can also reside under the nails so if the baby or toddler puts his or her hand in their mouth, they can enter the body and develop into fully-grown pinworms. Nail-biting is another common habit through which a pinworm infection can spread.
Symptoms of Pinworm Infection
The most common symptom of a pinworm infection is itching around the anal region but there are a few other symptoms as well that point to this infection. The symptoms include:
Severe itching around the anus:
The eggs that the female pinworm lays on the skin around the anus cause severe itching and when the child itches, these eggs stick to the skin and the nails and can spread to other children or adults when they come in contact with the baby or the toddler.
Irritable and fussy:
Babies can get fussy at the slightest of discomforts and pinworm infection can make them all the more irritable. Fussy babies are not easy to handle and the severe itching can not only make them cry a lot more than they usually do but it also affects their growth.
Continuous itching can obviously keep even adults away from sleep so it can definitely affect babies also. Pinworm itching can increase at night so days are relatively itch-free.
Adult pinworms can also move to the vaginal area from the anus and can cause itching around that area as well. Female babies can experience this symptom in some cases but not all female babies having pinworm infection go through vaginal itching.
Pain in the abdominal area:
A minor pain that comes and disappears after a few minutes is another symptom of pinworm infection.
How to know if the Baby has Pinworms?
If your baby experiences itching at night or display any other symptoms listed above, you can check for pinworms once the baby sleeps for the night. Skip giving the night bath to the baby and wait for 2-3 hours as the pinworms move around the skin after the baby falls asleep. Lift up the legs and spread the butt cheeks to see the anus clearly. Use a flashlight to see if you see any worms moving.
Another way to identify a pinworm infection is the scotch tape test (3). Stick a piece of transparent scotch tape to the sides of the anus and press firmly to get any worms that might be moving beneath the tape. The eggs can also be seen under the microscope. Check the tape under a microscope to check if your baby has a pinworm infection.
Are Pinworms dangerous?
The good news is that pinworm infections are not dangerous in 99% of the cases. The most they can do is cause severe itching. In rare cases, untreated pinworm infection can cause urinary tract infections in females. Abdominal pain is another common complaint in babies if the infection is not treated timely.
How to get rid of Pinworms in babies?
Unlike other infections, getting rid of pinworms in babies is easy and does not require any heavy medication. We will be discussing more the home remedies for pinworms in babies in the next section.
The first precaution is to maintain proper hygiene in your household. If you have a toddler and a baby, chances are that your toddler might bring the infection from school or playground and can infect the baby too. Very small babies who are still on breast milk or formula and do not eat solids are less likely to contract this infection as they do not ingest that well but babies older than 6 months can get a pinworm infection. Teach your toddler to wash hands after every trip to the loo and before mealtimes. Give a bath to your baby with a gentle bath soap to maintain proper hygiene.
Over the counter medications like Reese’s pinworm medication (4) and albendazole (5) work effectively in treating pinworms in babies. They come in weekly doses and the baby needs to take one medicine per week for at least two weeks to get rid of pinworms completely. Vermox is another OTC medicine that is usually prescribed to get rid of pinworms.
Natural Home Remedies for Pinworms in Babies
While you can use medicines to treat pinworms in babies, there are a few natural remedies also that help in getting rid of pinworms. Here are a few of those tried and tested remedies that are supposed to work in controlling a pinworm infection:
Maintain Strict Hygiene
Keep the area clean at all times. Wipe clean after every poop and wash it with water to keep it dry. If your child is suffering from a pinworm infection, do not wipe it a lot as this can cause rashes. Wash the area with plain water and let it air dry. Pinworms reside inside the gut lining so it is important to remove them from the anus with the help of a few home remedies.
Apply a raw garlic salve on the affected area.
Garlic has many health benefits and using raw garlic is said to get rid of pinworms easily. It kills the existing pinworm eggs that are sticking to the skin so that they do not spread easily. Garlic also helps in stopping the production of more eggs in female pinworms so it decreases the infection significantly.
If your toddler is suffering from pinworms, you can make them consume raw garlic in small amounts. For babies, you can prepare a garlic salve by mixing crushed garlic cloves or ground garlic with any oil and applying it to the affected area.
Apply coconut oil around the anus
Coconut oil has healing properties and is used in many skincare products for babies as well as adults. It has antibacterial properties and helps to soothe the inflammation and itching caused by a pinworm infection.
It is also very gentle on the baby’s soft skin. Consuming a bit of coconut oil has a significant impact on the infection but if the baby is young, you can just apply the oil around the anus a few times a week to see good results.
Consume a cup of shredded carrots or give carrot puree.
Carrots, being rich in fiber, help to clean the bowels and push the pinworms out of the anus. You can grind the raw carrots and give them in the form of a puree or shred them finely for the baby’s consumption. Carrots are also a good source of vitamin C that prevents many skin and body infections. Vitamin C also helps in increasing the immunity of the body.
How to Treat Pinworms in Babies?
Babies, per se, do not normally get pinworm infections if they still haven’t started to crawl or eat solid food yet as they have fewer chances of ingesting the pinworm eggs. They can, however, inhale the eggs but that is a very rare chance. Once they begin to crawl and put things in their mouth, they become prone to this infection as the eggs can get to their bodies easily. If your baby does get a pinworm infection, over the counter medicines listed above or these simple home remedies can help you treat it easily. Pinworms have a life cycle of about six weeks so make sure that you keep the baby clean and dry to reduce the discomfort and prevent any re-infection.
One important thing to keep in mind when treating pinworm in babies is to not take any symptoms lightly. A small infection can also cause a lot of discomfort to babies and it is essential to treat the condition by either medicines or home remedies in a timely manner. Do not wait for the infection to go away on its own as it will only spread further.
How Can You Prevent Pinworm Infection?
Now that we have discussed all about pinworms in babies and how to treat them using medicines and home remedies, it is important to discuss more about how you can prevent the pinworms from entering your home because once they do, you will also have to treat all the other family members since the infection is quite contagious. Here are a few tips that can help you avoid this itch:
- Wash your baby’s genital areas and anal region thoroughly with an antibacterial soap every time you give them a bath.
- Make sure that all the members of the family take a thorough bath every day and use separate towels and mats.
- Wash towels and napkins used by the family members daily to prevent any sort of spreading of pinworm eggs.
- Teach your kids to wash their hands with disinfecting soap every time they come home after school or from the playground.
- Keep their fingernails short and clean. Cut your baby’s fingernails regularly and clean them to remove any dirt or eggs accumulated under the nails.
- Wash your bed linen and clothes regularly. Pinworm eggs can land on the linen so it is advisable to not shake them and just put them in the washer after taking them off the bed.
- Discourage the habit of nail-biting or thumb sucking as these are some ways in which the pinworm eggs can enter the body.
- Make sure that children do not eat their meals on the bed as this poses a risk of the eggs sticking to the bed linen being ingested.
- Wear a pair of gloves if you want to check for pinworms on the baby and discard those gloves after you have assessed the symptoms.
This is all about pinworms and how they affect babies. These little thread-like worms can cause a lot of itching so it is advised to treat them as soon as you can. Our precious little babies shouldn’t have to undergo such discomfort and this is the reason why this article is written to help mommies treat pinworm infections easily at home or by using mild medicines. One thing to keep in mind is to always ask your pediatrician before administrating any medicine to babies. Pregnant or breastfeeding ladies should also not take pinworm medicines without consulting their doctor. Has your baby gone through an episode of pinworm infection? How did you deal with it?