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Help - I've got worms

worms; pinworms; parasite; threadworm; bowel; pin; thread; itch; itchy; bottom; bum; anus;


What are worms?

Have you seen those really long worms in the garden? Well those are not the worms we're talking about! We're talking about the sort of worms that like to make their homes inside human bodies!

There are various kinds of worms that do this, but in Australia the only one we need to be concerned about is the threadworm, (which looks like a little piece of thread). It may also be called a pinworm.

How do you get worms?

Threadworms only affect humans; you can't get them from pets.

put only clean fingers in your mouthYou can pick up the eggs of the threadworm on your hands from something that has human poo on it (your own poo if you already have worms, or poo from other people.) Then, if you don't wash your hands - as soon as your hands go into your mouth, the eggs get into the body, hatch out in the small intestine and move down to the large bowel. There they fasten themselves to the wall of the bowel and eat. The worms live for about 6 to 8 weeks.

wash your hands after going to the toiletWhen they are ready to lay their eggs, the worms move on to the rectum and anus, and lay their eggs on the skin around your anus. That's when you may notice that you have worms because you will feel all itchy around your bottom or anus. It takes about a month from swallowing the eggs to feeling itchy.

You may scratch round there, get worm eggs under your nails or on your fingers and then touch a table or something. The eggs can live for a couple of weeks so they wait until someone comes along and touches them and off they go into another human being.

Eggs are so tiny you can't see them. You can pick them up from:

  • clothing and bedding
  • surfaces like tables, floors and doors
  • cups, glasses, plates and cutlery
  • sandpits
  • food
  • toilets and bathrooms.

How do you know you've got worms?

itchy bottomYou don't, until the itching starts around the anus.

It usually feels more itchy at night, when you are trying to go to sleep and you don't have other things to think about.

Sometimes the scratching can cause skin problems like eczema or an infection.

Sometimes you feel a bit unwell and not wanting to eat, but mostly you won't feel unwell at all.

If you have been itching for some days, it may be possible to see the little worms looking like threads of cotton in the toilet. One way to make sure is to get whoever cares for you to put a piece of sticky tape across your anus for a moment when you wake up in the morning. Any worms or eggs will stick to it.

Then mum, dad, or whoever cares for you can take you to see the doctor who will look at the tape under a microscope and be able to see what is there.

How to get rid of worms

your doctorThere are 3 things that will get rid of worms.

  1. Your doctor or pharmacist can give you some medicine or tablets to take that will kill the worms in your body. Everyone in the family needs to take the medication.
  2. All bedding, pyjamas and other clothes need to be well washed.
  3. Everyone needs to be very careful to wash their hands before eating and after going to the toilet. Be careful to keep bathrooms, toilets, kitchens and tables clean.

The medication will not make you feel sick but it will kill the worms in your gut right away. The itching lasts for several days after the worms have been killed. You can get some cream that will help stop the itchy feeling.

Keeping worms away

Threadworms are quite easy to pick up, and lots of kids and adults get them from time to time.

* Washing your hands before eating and after going to the toilet is a great habit to get into. wash your hands before you eat
* Keeping your fingernails clean and short is also a good idea.
* You can't get threadworms from pets, but you can catch other things from them, so it's a good idea to keep your face away so your pet does not lick you, and wash your hands after playing with them.

If you do get worms, it is not a hard job to get rid of them and you don't need to stay away from school. It would be a good idea if mum lets the teacher know so that other parents could check out their families too.

It isn't very funny
I've got worms in my tummy!
I've got an itchy bum
And it really isn't fun!
I had to take a pill,
It didn't make me ill.
But, oh the very thought of a worm
Makes me shudder, shake and squirm.
So, wash your hands before you eat
Or you could get worms.. and it's no treat!


Dr Kate says

Dr KateGetting worms doesn't mean that you're a dirty kid! Anyone can get them. They are easy to pick up and adults, even the teacher, can get them!
Kids are more likely to get worms because they tend to get really busy and forget to wash hands after playing in the sandpit or before they have lunch. Remember to always wash your hands after you go to the toilet too.

You won't be able to feel them wriggling around inside you because they are so tiny.

If you go overseas be careful to always:

  • wash your hands before you eat or drink
  • drink boiled or bottled water
  • wash your hands well or use hand gel or wipes after going to the bathroom.

You don't want to bring any 'passengers' back home in your body.

If you have a pet you need to be careful about washing your hands after you have played with them as dogs and cats may have worms that you could catch from them. Make sure that your pet has worm treatment regularly.

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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