Pinworms Symptom , Causes and Complications

Pinworms Symptoms and Causes

One of the most common types of human intestinal worm infections is the pinworm infection. Pinworms are tiny and narrow worms which are less than half an inch long and they are white in color. The pinworm infection is also known as oxyuriasis or enterobiasis. This is the most common type of worm infection which is found in the United States of America [1]. This type of infection can spread easily. It is most common in children between the ages of five and ten [2]. Also it is very common in people who live in institutions and in people who have regular and close contact with people in the mentioned groups. The medication is effective treatment for the pinworm infection but the re-infection is still possible. There are rare cases when there can be serious complications and long – term health effects.


Pinworms Symptoms and Causes

Symptoms: There are some people who have pinworm infections and who are not experiencing any symptoms. But if you suspect that you or your child has a pinworm infection, then the symptoms of it can include [1]:

  • Presence of pinworms in the stools
  • Presence of pinworms in the area of your child’s anus
  • Pain, rash or other skin irritation around the anus
  • Restless sleep due to itching and discomfort of anal area
  • Frequent and strong itching of the anal area

Causes: You should know that the pinworms are highly contagious. Someone can become infected with pinworms by unintentionally inhaling or ingesting pinworm eggs which are usually deposited by an infected person onto some object. With the ingestion of the microscopic eggs the cycle of infection is beginning. When the eggs enter your body, then they remain in the intestine until they mature and hatch. When female pinworms are adults, then they move into the colon and they exit the body through the anus. It is known that the female pinworms lay eggs in the folds of the skin around the anus and the presence of these eggs can cause anal irritation and itching. When the affected person scratches the affected area, then the pinworm eggs transfer to the fingers and these eggs can survive for several hours on the hands. Also if the infected person touches clothing, bedding, toys, toilet seats or other household objects, then the eggs can transfer to these objects. The eggs of pinworm can survive on the contaminated surfaces for up to 3 weeks. It is known that children can transfer the pinworm eggs easily because they can put their infected toys or other objects directly into their mouths. Also these eggs can transfer from the contaminated fingers directly to liquids or food. It is uncommon but it is possible for adults to inhale airborne eggs [3] when shaking contaminated clothing, towels or bedding. It is known fact that people who live in crowded places, such as institutions, are having highest risk of getting pinworms. Also, children who are younger than 18, are having higher chances of getting pinworms. The pinworm eggs can easily spread to family members, caregivers or other children at child care centers or school.

Pinworms Symptoms and Causes

Pinworms Symptoms and Causes

Risk factors: This type of infection can affect people from all ages and geographic regions. The pinworm eggs are microscopic which means that it is impossible to avoid infected individuals or areas. Every single person can get pinworm infection but there are some groups which have increased risk of developing it, such as

  • Children who have a habit of sucking their thumbs [1]
  • Children or adults who do not practice regular and careful hand – washing prior to eating [1,4]
  • Individuals who live in institutions or other crowded accommodations [4]
  • Family members or caregivers of infected children and adults
  • Children who attend day care, preschool or elementary school

Complications: In the most cases, pinworm infections are not causing serious problems. There are rare cases when heavy infestations can cause infection of the female genitals. The parasite can travel from the anal area to fallopian tubes, around the pelvic organs or up the vagina to the uterus. This could lead to problems, such as inflammation of the inner lining of the uterus (endometritis) or inflammation of the vagina (vaginitis). [5]


[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pinworm infection FAQs. 2013. Retrieved from

[2] Fan CK, Chuang TW, Huang YC, et al. Enterobius vermicularis infection: prevalence and risk factors among preschool children in kindergarten in the capital area, Republic of the Marshall Islands. BMC Infectious Diseases. 2019;19.

[3] Kim DH, Cho MK, Park MK, et al. Environmental factors related to enterobiasis in a Southeast region of Korea. The Korean Journal of Parasitology. 2013;51(1):139-42.

[4] Taylor A, Saichua P, Rhongbutsri P, et al. A preliminary epidemiological study of pinworm infection in Thaklong Municipal Early Childhood Development Center and Rangsit Babies’ Home, Pathum Thani, Thailand. BMC Research Notes. 2018;11:603.

[5] Siochou A, Birtsou H, Papazahariadou M. Enterobius vermicularis infection of female genital tract. International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology. 2008;21(4):1031-3.


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