Worms are thin, long white bugs. They look a bit like threads. They’re usually about 1 centimetre long, but they can also be much longer. You’ll usually discover them when you see them move in your or your child’s stool. Worms are more common in children, because they play in environments where the worms live. An example of this is the sandpit. The worms’ eggs land on their hands and they swallow them when they touch their mouths. The eggs then hatch and the worms live in the intestines. They lay eggs around the anus at night. This causes itching, which, in turn, will make your child prone to scratching. Scratching causes the eggs to get lodged under the fingernails. The eggs can be transferred to another person through touch if you or your child don’t wash your hands properly. The worms are not dangerous, but they do cause some unpleasant symptoms. The worms will usually disappear on their own if you pay careful attention to your hygiene.
Worms may result in you or your child suffering from the following symptoms:
- White, long threadlike bugs in your stool. You may be able to see them moving, but not necessarily.
- Severe itching around the anus.
- Difficulty sleeping. The itching can be more intense at night, because the worms are active then.
- Red skin around the anus and/or genitals. This is as a result of the scratching.
It’s important to do the following if you’re suffering from worms:
- Pay close attention to your and your child’s hygiene. Washing your hands regularly will prevent eggs from getting into your mouth and transferring the eggs to others. So make sure your child regularly washes his or her hands if he or she has worms. Always make sure this is done before eating and after going to the toilet.
- Regularly trim your and your child’s nails.
- Keep your house clean.
- Clean your toilet every day.
- Also regularly clean other items and things you or your child often touch.
- Use a clean and personal towel and/or wash cloth every day.
- Prevent you or your child from scratching the anus. This causes severe irritation and promotes the spread of the worms.
- Wash your laundry at a minimum of 60°C. This particularly applies to your bedding and the clothes you or your child often wear.
- Buy mebendazole from the chemist or pharmacy. Take one tablet and repeat after 2 weeks if you or your child still have worms. We would also recommend carefully reading this medication’s package leaflet, or obtain advice about its use. Please note: We don’t recommend taking mebendazole for children below the age of 2.
If you and/or your child follow this advice, there’s every chance you’ll be rid of the worms within 4 to 6 weeks.
You or your child usually won’t need to go and see the doctor if you or your child suffers from worms. However, we recommend you contact your GP if:
- You still have worms after following the advice.
- Your child still has worms after following the advice.
- Your child is under two years old and the hygiene measures have had no effect.