What are Pinworms?

Pinworms are tiny white worms that live in the intestine. They are sometimes called threadworms because they look like a white piece of thread. School age children and preschoolers have the highest risk of infection. 

Pinworms are not a reportable disease, but Oxford County Public Health can offer guidance on how to examine a child for pinworms.
  • Pinworm eggs are swallowed and hatch in the intestine. Female worms crawl out of the anus at night and lay their eggs on nearby skin.
  • Itching and scratching around the anus is the most common symptom. Disturbed sleep and irritability are also common.
  • When an infected child scratches their anus the pinworm eggs get onto their hands and under their nails. The eggs can be spread from child to child and from infected child to family member when hands are not properly washed.
  • Pinworm eggs can survive on clothing, bedding and toys for up to two weeks.

Managing pinworms: What to do

Most pinworm infections are mild and can be easily treated by a doctor.
  • Properly wash hands after using toilet, changing diapers and before eating.
  • Keep nails trimmed short to discourage nail biting.
  • Discourage scratching of the itchy area.
  • Shower early in the morning to help reduce the number of new eggs.
  • Change underwear and bedclothes daily and change bed sheets after each treatment.
  • Eggs are sensitive to light, so open bedroom curtains and blinds during the day.

Quick Reference

Your healthcare provider can provide additional information on conducting an examination for pinworms.

Children may return to childcare after treatment has started.

Questions? Contact Oxford Public Health at 519.539.9800.