Itchy backside, particularly at night? Irritable, poor sleep and lack of appetite? These are all signs of threadworm, the most common worm infection in Australia.

Thread worms, otherwise known as pinworms, are spread via the oral-faecal route.

The stages involved in the thread worm cycle are:

    1. Ingesting threadworm eggs
    2. Eggs hatching in stomach
    3. The worms move to the small and large intestine to live and grow
    4. The adult female makes her way to our anus where she lays thousands of eggs and then dies

What causes an itchy bottom is the stuff that sticks the eggs to our backside. These eggs then easily get stuck to fingers and under fingernails and are easily transferred back to our mouths, thus the cycle starts again.

Due to the way these pesky little worms spread, children are more prone than adults.

So, what happens if thread worms are suspected in the family?

Thread worms are visible to the human eye, and often look small pieces of white cotton. They can even be seen moving on the surface of ‘number 2s’!

Parents, you may perform the ‘sticky tape’ test on your children. This is where you put a piece of sticky tape over their back passage, and any eggs will stick to the tape, which is a fair identifier of worms. The best time to do this is at night or first thing in the morning, when worms are particularly active.

Treatment options are available over the counter at your local UFS pharmacy, so come and discuss what is the most suitable for you and your family. Remember it is important to treat all members of the household regardless of whether or not they have symptoms.

Finally, let me dispel some myths about threadworms:

    1. Threadworm medication does NOT protect against worms nor does it prevent them; so there is absolutely NO need to do a yearly ‘worming’ of the family.
    2. Thread worms are NOT caught from family pets.