The walls of the large intestine generate a coating of slime, or mucous, to shield it from undesirable invaders such as toxic substances and bacteria from the foods we consume.
Normally, the colon sheds that coating of mucous periodically and replenishes it with fresh mucous. We are constantly putting processed foods and those that contain preservatives and other chemicals into our bodies, that put stress on our digestive system. If your diet is predominantly of these types of foods, the colon is not able to shed that mucous lining because it is constantly being assaulted, so it compensates by adding layer upon layer.
Instead of detaching the mucus coatings, the colon adds coating after coating to its walls. This whole mess allows toxins to concentrate and fecal matter to build up into, what can only be described as, a mucoid plaque. This creates a warm, appealing setting in which parasites can thrive.
One of the most common intestinal parasites is the human pinworm. It is clinically known as enterobius vermicularis. They are small, white worms that can live in the intestines. They are quite common in young children, and are easily treated.
Adult pinworms live in the large intestines. Males and females are between 2 to 4 inches long and have the diameter, of a strand of thread.
Some eggs can become airborne and land on other people in the vicinity, but the majority stay on the skin of the buttocks.
A single female can produce more than 10,000 eggs. Once the eggs are deposited on the skin of the buttocks, the female also dies. At body temperature, the eggs develop quickly and are infective in about six hours. When ingested by another person, the eggs hatch in the warmth of the small intestine.
Pinworms are extremely contagious, and the eggs are infective within a few hours of being laid.
Wherever the child goes, whether it be the classroom, playground or home, the eggs can be spread. Eggs can stay on a child’s skin for several hours and they can survive for up to two weeks on clothes, bedding and toys. Once the child touches the contaminated source they will at some point put their fingers in the mouth.
This is how the eggs enter their bodies.
Once one member of a family is diagnose with pinworms, the whole family must be treated because they are so easily spread. On the bright side, the majority of children experience no ill effects whatsoever, so extreme measures to treat pinworms are not necessary.
The symptoms include restlessness, irritability, and insomnia.
Adult pinworms can enter females through the the vagina and cause irritation. Since the pinworm almost always stays in the gastrointestinal tract or vagina, there is usually no systemic illness.
In some cases, children do develop severe nighttime itching of the skin around the anus or in females , vaginal itching or a vaginal discharge.
Because pinworms are so common among children with nighttime anal itching, they are often treated without a lab test. An old fashioned method that is tried and true is to apply a piece of transparent tape to the skin near the anus first thing in the morning.
The doctor then puts the tape on a glass slide and examines it under a microscope for the presence of eggs.
Treatment is accomplished with a single dose of an anti-pinworm drug such as albendazole or mebendazole.
Some mebendazole products are available as a chewable tablet and most children, and adults, experience no side effects with the medication. The medication kills the worms about 95 percent of the time, but it does not kill the eggs, so a follow up treatment is recommended two weeks later.
Treatment varies due to individual circumstances, so it is best to consult with your doctor and follow the method of treatment that he, or she, prescribes.
Pinworm infections and reinfections can be diminished by the following a few simple, common sense steps.
- Make certain children wash their hands before meals and after using the restroom.
- In addition, it is important to keep children’s fingernails trimmed and discourage nail biting.
- General overall hygiene rules should also be applied.
- Be sure to have children bathe in the morning to reduce egg contamination and to change into a clean pair of underwear every day.
- It is also helpful to open bedroom blinds and curtains during the day because pinworm eggs are sensitive to sunlight.
- After each treatment, be sure to change night clothes, underwear and bedding and wash them in hot water with disinfectant soap before using them again.
Since pinworms are so common and usually occur in children age 12 and under, there is no reason for concern unless the infection keeps reoccurring.
If that becomes the case, you need to effectively sterilize all of the bedding and clothes that the patient has had access to and stay in contact with your doctor for additional treatments until you rid the patient of the “infestation.”
Under “normal” cases you will not have to go to these extremes because a single treatment, with one follow up treatment and simple precautions will rid you of the problem.