As their name suggests, threadworms are small, white, ‘thread-like’ worms which live in the upper part of the colon.
They are particularly common in young children, but adults can also get them.
You’ll usually find out that your child has threadworms if they start scratching their bottom at night.
If you do see your child scratching, then you may be able to see the threadworms in your child’s stools or on their bottom at night-time.
Although threadworms often have no symptoms, typical symptoms include:
Intense itching of the bottom at night
Severe cases of infection can cause loss of appetite, diarrhoea, weight loss and insomnia
One of the main problems with threadworms is that they are extremely contagious. The risk of transmission in families is often as high as 75% and so all members of a household have to be treated.
Threadworms spread when their eggs are swallowed. They lay eggs around the anus (bottom), which make it itchy. The eggs then get stuck on your or your child’s fingers when you/they scratch. They can then pass on to anything you touch, including:
kitchen or bathroom surfaces
Children can get worms again after they've been treated for them if they get the eggs in their mouth. That’s why it's important to encourage children to wash their hands regularly.
If your child does have threadworms, then your child’s nursery or school should be informed and the whole family needs to be treated at once, even if no one appears to have symptoms.
Threadworm treatment is targeted at getting rid of the threadworms and preventing reinfection, and usually involves a combination of medication to kill the worms and strict hygiene measures to stop the spread of the eggs.
At Toome Pharmacy our pharmacists are fully trained to deal with both the diagnosis and treatment of threadworms.
If you or your child are concerned about threadworms, then we can speak to you in private in our consultation room and prescribe relevant medication, if appropriate.
Under the Minor Ailment scheme, Mebendazole is the first-choice option for the treatment of threadworms and is available in both banana-flavoured liquid form and orange-flavoured chewable tablet form.
Mebendazole is usually taken as a single dose, but it can be taken for around 3 days for some infections. If you or your child have threadworms, then everyone else living in the house will need to be treated at the same time.
Our pharmacist may suggest that you repeat the dose after 2 weeks to prevent you or your child from getting them again. That’s because the Mebendazole kills the worms, but not their eggs.
Mebendazole isn’t suitable for some people, so during your consultation, you must tell our pharmacist if you:
have had an allergic reaction to Mebendazole or any other medicine in the past
are pregnant or breastfeeding
By using Mebendazole and paying meticulous attention to hygiene, you should see the threadworms disappear within 2 weeks. Worms in the intestine will die within this time and, if there is no reinfection by eggs being swallowed, no further worms will be produced.
If you are concerned that you, or someone in your household, has threadworms, speak to one of our pharmacists today, or call the pharmacy to book a consultation.