What are threadworms?
Threadworms are tiny worms that live inside the intestines. They are often found in children and are regularly noticed via their poo. Threadworms in poop are one of the first signs of an active threadworm infection. They’re very small, measuring at 2mm and 13mm long, and look like pieces of fine cotton thread. There are plenty of threadworms pictures available online if you’re struggling to identify one. Below you can view an example of threadworms pictures provided via microscope.
Threadworms in poop are most common in pre-schoolers and older children, but babies and adults can also catch them, albeit at a much lower rate. It is thought that around two in five children will get infected at some point.
As with all parasites, one of the more important questions is…are threadworms contagious? Just like other parasites, threadworms are incredibly contagious via microscopic eggs.
Please visit the NHS website for more information about what are threadworms and what you can do to treat them.
How do you get threadworms?
Your child can accidently infect themselves with threadworms by swallowing worm eggs found on contaminated surfaces. One of those contaminated surfaces can be the anal region, which is typically scratched with the fingers and then placed near the mouth or food they’d eat.
Once an egg has successfully entered the body, it will make its way to the large intestines and hatch into a threadworm. Once the threadworm has grown and is ready to lay more eggs, it leaves the intestine and lays eggs around a person’s anus region, causing the classic symptom, itching.
Even though this may never have happened and your child still got infected, and is asking themselves how do you get threadworms when I’m entirely clean and hygienic, worry not. Itching the anus region isn’t the only way you can ingest eggs.
Infection may occur by simply touching surfaces or objects that have threadworm eggs on them, e.g., furniture, kitchen or bathroom surfaces, kitchen utensils, and then touching your mouth or food. Eggs can survive up to two weeks in the above environments, which makes infection likely.
It’s best to speak to a doctor if you’re wondering about other questions similar to how do you get threadworms and what you can do to prevent a future outbreak from occurring.
Can threadworms kill you?
The worst thing a threadworm can cause is an itch. Other than that, threadworms are entirely harmless. It is entirely possible for people to be infected with them for years, going about their day without ever noticing what’s creeping around inside of them.
If you suspect that you have a threadworm infection, one of the tell-tale signs is the appearance of threadworms in poop. They have the appearance of a white piece of thread and there will likely be more than one visible. Other threadworms symptoms will likely appear the more mature the infection is.
Do not fret and start worrying about can threadworms kill you. Suitable treatment threadworms can be found at your local pharmacy or on prescription from a doctor.
Threadworms will often go unnoticed in a majority of people. However, some people will display threadworms symptoms of intense anal itching, particularly at night when the female worms come out to lay eggs.
In some cases, threadworms may be visible on your bedsheets or clothes, or you may notice them in your stools. As said above, they appear as a thin, white piece of thread.
These are the only threadworms symptoms that can sometimes occur, with a lot of people not noticing at all.
If you suspect you have a threadworm infection, a simple test involves applying a transparent piece of tape around the anus and catching any worms that come out to lay eggs. The tape can then be taken to the doctor for diagnosis.
One of the more common treatment threadworms you can purchase over-the-counter is called mebendazole. This can often be found as the brand called Ovex. These types of medicines belong to a group called anthelmintics.
Mebendazole works by preventing the worms from being able to absorb sugars. These sugars are essential to their survival, therefore limiting or completely getting rid of how the worms feed and stay alive. This eventually leads to the worms dying within a few days. Once dead, the worms are then removed from the body by going through the gut and into the stool. However, this treatment threadworms only kills the adult worms and their eggs, so it’s important to treat the whole family.
During or after treatment it is recommended to keep hygiene meticulous in order to avoid any new eggs which can cause a new infection.
Threadworms symptoms may still be experienced for a couple of days until the worms begin to die. Immediate relief is impossible and you may continue to experience itching until the worms die of starvation.
Tips you can follow to stop becoming infected again
Using treatment threadworms will kill the worms, but does not kill the eggs. This means it is still possible to reinfect yourself or other family members after medicating for the recommended amount of time. Eggs can continue to live outside the body for up to 2 weeks.
- Make sure to wash your hands and clean underneath your fingernails – especially before eating, after using the toilet or changing nappies
- Encourage your children to wash their hands regularly
- Bathe or shower every morning
- Rinse toothbrushes before using them
- Keep fingernails short
- Wash sleepwear, sheets, towels and soft toys (at a hot temperature)
- Disinfect kitchen and bathroom surfaces
- Vacuum and dust with a damp cloth
- Make sure children wear underwear at night – change it in the morning
Try to avoid doing the following:
- Do not shake clothing or bedding, to prevent eggs landing on other surfaces
- Do not share towels or flannels
- Do not bite nails or such thumbs and fingers