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Treating threadworms – advice for the whole family

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An itchy bottom, irritability and teeth grinding are all signs that your child could have threadworms. 

Threadworms are parasites which live in the gut of humans and can be spread easily from person to person. They’re common in primary school children since young children often play closely with others and may not always wash their hands before eating.

Identifying threadworms

The most obvious sign of threadworms is an itchy bottom, especially at night, but only one third of children will itch. Keep an eye out for:

  • Bed-wetting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness or disturbed sleep
  • Teeth grinding

A visual check can also help identify threadworms. They will look like white cotton thread around your child’s anus and be about 5 - 10mm in length. The best time to check is at night when threadworms come out to lay eggs. You might find a torch helpful as they can be difficult to see. You might also see threadworms on a bowel motion or on the toilet paper after wiping.

You do not actually have to see the threadworms before seeking treatment. If you suspect your child has threadworms or you know it’s going around the school, talk to your Unichem Pharmacist.

How to treat threadworms 

If your child has threadworms, it’s easy to treat them with medicine from your Unichem Pharmacist. Since threadworm is so contagious you’ll need to treat the whole family. You’ll also need to repeat the treatment in two weeks’ time as the eggs can survive on surfaces. To help kill the eggs it’s also a good idea to wash bed sheets, pyjamas, underwear and towels in hot water. 

Preventing threadworm

The best way to prevent your child from getting threadworms is to make sure they always wash their hands:

  • After going to the toilet
  • After touching objects that others have touched
  • Before preparing and eating food

You might consider putting a small container of sanitising hand gel or wipes in your child’s school bag so they can easily wash their hands before eating.

Shazeel – Pharmacist, Unichem Rototuna Pharmacy, Hamilton