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The Pinworm Thread

post #1 of 257
Thread Starter 
Please bump if you find this post useful. -- Caitlin
Pinworms are parasites that reproduce using the human digestive tract. One-third of Americans have pinworms, and 30-80% of children have them because they put their fingers and toys in their mouths. Little girls are particularly susceptible to vaginal pinworms, which causes itching and pain especially at night when they go to bed. One-third of pinworm infections have no symptoms.

*** Children's symptoms of infection (from Aviva Jill Romm's book): night-waking, nighttime bottom itching and pain, bedwetting, tummy-ache, changes in appetite, irritability at bedtime or even during the day, constipation, nose picking, dark circles under the eyes, chronic dry cough, strong appetite for sweets, whininess. "These symptoms may come and go in cycles every few weeks to months." (Romm 2000: page 345).

*** Understanding of Pinworms: Treatment of the whole family takes over a month due to the worms 4-6 week life cycle. Worms exit the anus to lay 10,000 eggs each on the skin. Their wiggling producing itching, and scratching results in the sticky eggs getting lodged under a child's nails. Microscopic eggs become airborne, traveling from the hosts' fingers to whatever they touch, where they can live for 2-3 weeks awaiting their new host. Once ingested, the eggs hatch in the intestines (and elsewhere). Worms look like wiggling lint under a flashlight at night or first thing in the morning. The worms and their eggs will stick to transparent tape applied to the skin around the anus, and the tape can be examined under a magnifying glass. Pinworms may be more common among middle-class and affluent communities, but there is scant evidence for this claim.

*** Topical Treatment at Night ***
Spread over inflamed skin to reduce discomfort and itching. Works immediately and within 3 days.
Salves (i.e. Black Walnut Hull salve from WiseWays Herbals), unsweetened plain yogurt with active cultures (apply and wash off), aloe vera gel, and calendula gel or lotion. Petroleum jelly works too, but I do not recommend it for any use on skin because it is toxic at low levels.

*** Medicines ***
Western pinworm medicines (i.e. Vermox and Pipn-X) kill the adult worms only, allowing reinfection from eggs, and thus requiring multiple treatements for all family members. Black walnut tree leaves (1-2 leaves) steeped as tea daily. Black walnut oil, wormwood tincture, and clove essental oil taken in olive oil 3 times daily works to kill the worms at all life stages. Homeopathic Cina kills worms in the intestines. Grapefruit seed extract takes over a month to work, but can be safe and effective. Fresh garlic helps, and can be taken with honey. Pineapple juice taken twice a day for a month worked for some families. 10-15 raw pumpkin seeds per day will help children (20-30 for adults), and should be taken for 2 weeks. You should follow your treatment plan for 10 straight days, take a break for a 1-2 weeks, and then follow it again for 10 days to prevent reinfestation.

*** Lifestyle ***
* Clip children's nails short. Wash hands at wake-up and through-out the day. Keep children's hands away from their face. Discourage scratching, nail-biting, nose-picking, eye-rubbing.
* Wash bed sheets every 3 days for a month. Change all-cotton underwear at rise and bed. Note that Lysol and similar disinfectant sprays do not kill pinworm eggs. Clove may be effective as a spray, and could be placed in a mister as a few drops of clove essential oil diluted with water, vodka, and pure Castille soap or pure liquid detergent. Oregano oil may also be effective, but could be too strong for young children.
* Bathe in Epsom Salt daily, especially Colonics, such as enemas, can flush out worms and reduce symptoms.

*** Diet ***
* Eat fewer finger foods. Don't share food off each others' plates.
* Eat foods with less sugar, less carbohydrates, and less refined flour.
* Emphasize salty foods.
* Add apple cider vinegar to the diet (1 tspoon in a cup of water, up to 3 times daily) and probiotics (i.e. acidopholus- 4 billion organisms one per day, can be put in a dropper bottle)
* Try to eat: raw carrots, pumpkin seeds, squashes, seseame seeds, sesame seed oil (e.g. 1 tspn. daily), pickles, garlic, asafoetida (an Indian spice), black cumin seeds, fresh pineapple, calmyrna figs and juice, cloves, fennel seed tea (3 cups daily for a week or so), coconut (1 tablespoon at breakfast), papaya seeds (sold in chewable tablets), dark green leafy vegetables, beets, pomegranates, hot peppers, onions.
post #2 of 257
Thank you for that post, very informative.

Have you had personal experience with an infected child? Would you use a non-medicine treatment without having a positive diagnosis from a doctor first?

I have an almost 19 month old that wakes ALL.THE.TIME. at night. I find myself wondering if her waking is a) normal b) a symptom of a food allergy/sensitivity c) pin worm infection or d) something else completely! Ah, the joys of over analyzing your nursing, waking baby! :

post #3 of 257
Thank you!! I remember having pinworms as a child and it grossed me out! My 15 MO has been signing "potty" VERY frequently at bedtime/naptime and I couldn't figure out why. I thought she was just fighting sleep! She has been poking around "down there", picking her nose, and screaming when I try to examine her vulva. She's also been constipated - FOREVER. Not sure if it is entirely related. But we were just at the ped last week! Shouldn't they have noticed if she had pinworms? How do I verify this is what it is?

I can do the epsom salt baths and changing undies frequently. In fact, I let her go diaper-free quite a bit. Could be part of the problem??!! Maybe I should start putting her in cloth trainers more often instead.

Does the yogurt help the infection or just the symptoms?

I'm going to go get a flashlight and look right now!

ETA: I checked and didn't see anything wiggling. There is some white-ish stuff that looks like discharge but I can't tell if it is diaper ointment for her little red bottom. Should I assume it is pinworms anyway?
post #4 of 257
my 2 y/o has it. i wouldnt have noticed but my son saw her go on the floor and said theres worms in it! and you couldnt tell at first, but then you look close..there they are. i got the meds, but I really want to do natural remedies first. Doing yogurt tonight, going to find black walnut to do that as well. I read mugwort...anyone try that? it was in a older mothering magazine from the 80's. no one else is having symptoms...she was having symptoms 2 weeks ago and i thought i saw them, but then kept looking all the time, looked in the poop and found none....but i gave her pumpkin seeds anyway. figured it couldnt hurt. but shes had a bad rash for a month now and i thought it was the diarrhea but now i know why. ick. i feel so icky lol. i hope i dont have it, ive been nervous about pinworm for months actually because my butt was really itchy! but i kept looking and finding none. now im not itchy anymore, but i was a few months ago. i swore I had them, but i never found any. anyway, this is gross. lol.
post #5 of 257
I've just been wondering about pinworms as well. My dd keeps saying her nappie (diaper) hurts and we've done everything we could think of to help her but she kept saying it. I have tried to give her more vocabulary to describe what she's feeling like itching and uncomfortable but to no avail. We have looked at night with a flashlight, and at her poop, but we have not seen anything. Will you always see worms at night or only sometimes? i.e. would I have to look every night for a week to see evidence? I agree with the pp this is so gross. I didn't even know about pinworms until a couple weeks ago. Don't know how I missed it. Yuck and ick. Yick.
post #6 of 257
We've dealt with these multiple times, it's disturbing, but not really dangerous. I suspect many people have them and don't realize it.

A few things I've learned from experience:

If one of my kids is waking at night fussy, this is the first thing I check for...use a flashlight to check the rectum and if they're there you will almost certainly see them.
It takes work and time to get rid of them and re-infection is very likely...they have a 2-week life cycle so everything has to be done for 2-4 weeks. I put vaseline on the anus of the infected child every night for several weeks. This prevents the worms from laying their eggs and interrupts the life cycle. I didn't know it was toxic : so I may look for an alternative if we have to do this again.
I also make sure everyone's nails are cut short, everyone bathes and changes panties first thing in the morning, and the sheets are washed every other day. Lots of laundry is involved.

I have used an otc treatment before when desperate, but we've managed them without it, and I don't think I'd do it again. The main thing is not to panic and realize they won't really cause harm and that they really are everywhere and quite easy to get.

I would encourage you to check for pinworm if you DC is waking at night, we've found that getting rid of them makes a huge difference!
post #7 of 257
So, is the only way to find out to look at the child's anus during the night with a flashlight or can you look in their poop? Will they be wriggling around in the poop?
post #8 of 257
Two of my kids have had them 2X each, and we've never seen them in the poo. (not because I haven't checked, either, )

I know of people who have seen them in their DC poop, but I've only ever seen them crawling around on the kids. I can tell when the worms are active by the kids behavior, and I've gotten good at recognizing it and knowing when to check.
post #9 of 257
Originally Posted by kayjayjay View Post
I can tell when the worms are active by the kids behavior, and I've gotten good at recognizing it and knowing when to check.
Could you elaborate on what kind of behavior you see in your kids that keys you in to this?


post #10 of 257
I'll try to explain it, but it's sort of a knowing your own DC kind of thing. We've found the worms are active late evening, not necessarily when the kids are asleep, but when they're winding down and getting sleepy. They will get fussy but not in a "I need something but I don't know what I want" way, or a generally whiny way like they normally would when sleepy. The pinworm fussy is more of a spasming, or shrieking kind of fussy. They'll writhe around like they're uncomfortable but won't be able to tell you what's wrong. One of my DDs would tell me her bottom was itchy, but the other one wouldn't be able to articulate what was bugging her.

post #11 of 257
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post #13 of 257
Homeopathic cina would be a good start. It's great for parasites and totally safe.
post #14 of 257
Personally, I wouldn't try and de-worm my children if I thought they had pinworms. Those pinworms are there to do a job, and I would let them finished it. Radical yes, but read this article about a mainstream doctor who thinks intestinal parasites aren't all that bad.

The article begins with a quote that states, "What if I told you there were countries where the doctors had never seen hay fever?"

The crux of that scientific revolution is a bit of role reversal. The parasites that we have been told to avoid - such as hookworm and pinworm - may be the good guys, while excessive hygiene may be the bad guy.
I also wanted to say, I didn't just come by this info. I have been aware of the "benefits" of pathogens such as parasites for sometime now.
post #15 of 257
ITA with Uccomama. That is why I love homeopathy. It doesn't work like an herb or medicine. It will create the shift the body needs so that it doesn't require the parasites any longer. IMO it's the only way to go. It can be a huge mistake to interrupt healing. Homeopathy respects the body's innate wisdom and supplies it with the tools necessary to heal.
post #16 of 257
If I child has pinworms then there is an underlying reason why they are there. Parasites cannot easily thrive in healthy cells, so a child isn't going to pick them up by scrabbling in the dirt or not washing their hands unless there is some toxicity in the body. I know of someone who intentionally give himself tapeworm to cure a bowel elimination issue. It worked.
post #17 of 257
Wow! Thank you for this discussion!
post #18 of 257
So I think my three year old has pinworms, but I've not been able to catch the buggers so far. But he is waking at night, almost every night, and writhing and screeching and can't tell me what's wrong. He's not sleeping well and neither am I having to wake up and comfort him all the time. My first thought is to treat him! I'm thinking if he's infected he's got health issues... Maybe I need to up his nutrition/change his diet so his immune system is better, but that the worms need to be eliminated for that to happen as they absorb nutrients from him. His night wakings/anxiety/misbehavior started when we changed over to a vegetarian diet, which I read last night can make a worm infestation worse! Can someone explain to me some more the concept of them being beneficial or why NOT to treat?
post #19 of 257
Personally, I wouldn't try and de-worm my children if I thought they had pinworms. Those pinworms are there to do a job, and I would let them finished it. Radical yes, but read this article about a mainstream doctor who thinks intestinal parasites aren't all that bad.
Have you ever had them? Really and acutely had them? Its not exactly a picnic. I had pin worms for over six months as a small child. I was too embarrassed to tell my mom what was going on. It was excruciating. I itched like I never have before or since, and since the itch was inside my anus there was nothing I could do about it. I tried putting creams on the outside of my bottom, inserting them inside. I tried manually removing the worms (sorry, TMI), forcing bowl movements, taking hot baths: nothing relieved the horrible, horrible itching and the feeling of things squirming around in there. I spend hours in tears of panic and discomfort, lost maybe 2-3 hours of sleep every night or more. It was horrible, absolutely torturous for me.

My daughter, 4 years old, came down with a case of them this winter. She was very wakeful for three nights, unusually so. One night she came out of bed crying with an expression of pure misery on her face. I knew that look: I remembered it well. When I checked her bottom later that night after a warm bath: sure enough: pinworms.

I would never, ever not treat pinworms in some way or another. My experience was just too horrible. How can losing nutrients to the worms, losing three hours of sleep every night, and spending hours every night in an elevated state of discomfort and panic be beneficial to someone trying to heal?
post #20 of 257
Well, if you are unable or unwilling to clean up the diet and let them finish doing hte job then maybe you'd have to treat the infection. All of these things are a result of toxicity in the body. The only way to make it better is to make the body less toxic. I am in full agreement with uccomama that they are a sign of imbalance. I too would let them work until they were done. I would not sit there and twiddle my thumbs if we had them though. I'd be paying REAL close attention to the overall constitution and doing what I could to eliminate the source of the problem.

Ultimately you do have to do what *you* think is best. I would not be content killing them off knowing that there was something deeper going on in my kid. But, you are not me and you may have a very different perspective.
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