Q. My neighbor’s five-year-old daughter came down with a pinworm infestation. They found tiny worms crawling out of her anus. She was taken to the pediatrician and given medication.
The pinworms went away and my friend thought all was well, but in the two months since then, the pinworms have come back repeatedly. Both the same child and now another child have them. My friend is beside herself with frustration and disgust. All the affected people have taken the anti-worm medication, but not all at the same time. My friend has cut everyone’s nails short, laundered their sheets repeatedly, and told all of them not to touch dirt.
My children have spent several hours at her house. I didn’t know the infestation had continued when I let them play there. I haven’t seen pinworms on them yet but I am worried. Do you have advice on how to get rid of this persistent infestation?
A. Pinworms are extremely common, affecting somewhere between 10 and 40 percent of children at some point. They are much less common in adults.
Although pinworm infections are not dangerous, they are kind of gross. They may cause bothersome anal itching and look like little wiggly pieces of white thread, less than half an inch long.
Pinworms are treated with prescription drugs such as albendazole (Albenza) or mebendazole (Vermox). Pyrantel pamoate is another worm medication sold without a prescription under names such as Pin-X and Reese’s Pinworm Medicine. Retreatment in two weeks is recommended to combat re-infestation. Frequent hand washing may also be helpful.