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What are worms and how do they spread to children?

What are worms and how do they spread to children?


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Pinworms (earthworms) are intestinal parasites very common in pediatric age. They are white, mobile worms found in the intestines of some children. The female of the parasite travels to the perianal area, especially at night, where she lays her eggs, which remain attached to the skin or clothing.

By scratching the area, the eggs are placed under the children's nails and if they put their hands in their mouth they can ingest them and self-infection is perpetuated. It is common in children who attend daycare centers and it is also common for several people in the same family to have pinworm.

The parasite is called Enterobius vermicularis or pinworms, although in colloquial language we usually call these parasites 'worms'. Eggs are sticky and can contaminate bedrooms and bathrooms, objects, water, and swimming pools. They can be passed from one child to another through their hands or by sharing toys, clothes or any object, so it is a fairly common infection, and the symptoms are not serious, but they are bothersome.

These are the symptoms of worms in children:

- They tend to cause, especially at night, itching in the anal region, foreign body sensation or genital irritation especially in girls.

- Sleep is usually restless or with night terrors, nightmares or frequent awakenings.

- Scratching wounds can be seen, even with superinfection or inflammation.

The graham test It is performed by placing transparent adhesive paper first thing in the morning in the perianal region, to visualize the eggs deposited by the female in the perianal area under the microscope. Adult worms can also be directly visualized in the perianal or genital region.

The child should be treated and if possible siblings and family as well. A medication is administered (mebendazole, single dose) and it is repeated after 15 days, since the medication eliminates the worm, but not the egg, and the dose must be repeated to eradicate the worms that have developed in that period. This second dose is very important, we must not forget to administer it to children.

Hands and nails should be thoroughly washed, and toilets too. Eggs can remain on clothing for a long time, so bedding, pajamas, and towels should be washed in hot water and bleach.

Showering or bathing in the morning is highly recommended as it removes a large proportion of the eggs.

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