Did you know that pinworms infect around 200 million people around the globe? Of them, 30 to 40 million are from the United States and Canada alone (1).
While these worms commonly affect children, even adults, including pregnant women, can be infected sometimes. Pinworm infection during pregnancy could be irritating and uncomfortable as it often causes itchiness and gives you sleepless nights.
However, it is not a harmful condition and can be prevented like the other common infections during pregnancy. Continue reading this MomJunction post to know the causes of pinworm infection, its symptoms and ways to prevent it during pregnancy.
What Are Pinworms?
Pinworms are tiny white parasitic worms, which live and lay eggs in the rectum and colon of humans. These are around half-an-inch in size and infect humans when they are asleep. They spread easily and also travel through the intestine and other organs. The eggs of these worms are jelly-like, sticky, and microscopic (2).
These worms cause itchiness and discomfort and should be removed from the body as soon as possible. Pinworm infection is also contagious, which you are most likely to get it from a family member, co-worker or friend with the infection. Other names of pinworm infection are threadworm infection, seatworm infection, oxyuriasis, and enterobiasis.
Does Pinworm Infection Affect Pregnant Women?
Yes, pinworm infection can affect during pregnancy too. However, you can rest assured that the fetus is not harmed by it. In any case, it has to be treated in time before it spreads and multiplies in your body, making you more restless.
Lack of hygiene is usually the cause of pinworm infection during pregnancy. In the next section, we see some more about the causes of pinworms during pregnancy.
Causes Of Pinworm Infection During Pregnancy
Unhygienic conditions increase the risk of pinworm infection. When you are pregnant, you should be more conscious about it.
- The eggs get easily transferred from one infected person to another by way of sharing food or other substances.
- The female worms usually lay their eggs in and around the anus region, and they could get transferred by shared clothes and even towels.
- There is a possibility of getting infected when you share the same carpet, bed sheets, and pillows with the infected person.
- Pinworms trigger an itchy sensation. After scratching, the mucus is transferred by your hands to any surface or thing that you touch, from where it can spread to other people.
But how do you know if you are infected? Find out about it next.
Signs And Symptoms Of Pinworm Infection During Pregnancy
If the pinworms are too small and are fewer in number, then there might be no signs or symptoms. However, when they spread and are bigger, then you may experience the following.
- Itching around the rectum and in the genitals
- Disturbed sleep
- Irritation and uneasiness
- Nausea and abdominal pain
After diagnosis, the doctor will recommend certain medicines to get rid of the worms.
Are Deworming Medications Safe During Pregnancy?
Certain medications do help in fighting against pinworms during pregnancy. However, you should not take them during the first trimester. Benzimidazoles are recommended for deworming in pregnant women based on factors such as tolerance, efficacy, and safety (3). Albendazole is recommended in the dosage of 400mg IP.
In addition to this, mebendazole and pyrantel pamoate can also be taken in limited amounts as prescribed by the doctor. However, these are also allowed only in the second and third trimesters (4).
Medicines can be avoided when you prevent the onset of infection by living in hygienic conditions.
How To Prevent Pinworm Infection?
Pinworms live in humans for about three to six weeks. But maintaining proper hygiene helps to break their cycle of laying eggs and multiplying. Here are a few things you should do to prevent the infection.
- Do not eat in your bedroom, especially on the bed.
- Keep your home clean and dust-free, especially your bedrooms or the area where you often sleep.
- Bathroom and kitchen should be cleaned regularly.
- Do not share towels and clothes, particularly the inner garments.
- Keep your toothbrushes away from your toilet seat and rinse them before use.
- Regularly wash and change your bed sheets, pillow covers, and even night clothes.
- Wash your hands often to keep them clean.
- Take a shower every day and keep yourself clean.
- Keep your nails trimmed, and avoid scratching your anal area.
- Wash your hands every time after using the toilet.
Should the itching and irritation become severe, you can visit the doctor and get yourself treated. Although pinworm infection during pregnancy is not something to be so concerned about, you still need to see that you are living in hygienic surroundings. Keeping away any infection will make pregnancy so much better and easier.
2. Pinworm infection; Department of Health; New York State
3. National guidelines for deworming in pregnancy; Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Government of India (2014)
4. Parasites-Enterobiasis (also known as pinworm infection); Centers for Disease Control and Prevention