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Pinworms: Brief Version

What are pinworms?

A pinworm is a white, short, very thin worm. You may see them around your child's anus (where the stools come out). You may also see them in a stool. If your child's bottom itches, your child may have pinworms. Pinworms are not serious. But they need to be treated.

Use a flashlight to check for pinworms.

  • Look around the anus for the small, white worms.
  • Look a few hours after your child goes to bed or check first thing in the morning.
  • Check 2 nights or 2 mornings in a row.

Pinworms can be hard to see. Your doctor may give you a special tape test for pinworms. After your child has a stool, you can put Scotch tape over your child's anus. When you lift the tape up, you may see pinworms on the tape. Bring the tape to your doctor for testing.

If your child has been near another child with pinworms and has no itching, your child probably does not have pinworms. Pinworms are never around very long before they cause itching.

How can I take care of my child?

  • Give your child pinworm medicine. Your doctor will tell you which medicine is best for your child.
  • See if other family members have pinworms. Your whole family may need medicine. Check with your doctor.
  • Wash your child's underwear and pajamas in hot water every day. This kills pinworm eggs.

Call your doctor during office hours if:

  • The skin around your child's anus gets red or tender.
  • Your child does not stop itching after taking the medicine for 1 week.
  • You have other questions or concerns.
Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.3 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2015-06-11
Last reviewed: 2015-06-11
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 Barton D. Schmitt, MD FAAP. All rights reserved.
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