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Q: Are threadworms, pinworms, or seatworms caused by a lack of personal hygiene?
A: No. If threadworm eggs are present in the environment then it can be hard to avoid infection, no matter how fastidiously clean you are. The eggs will attach themselves to whatever they come into contact with. The airborne eggs contained in household dust may also be inadvertently inhaled.
Q: I thought it was only children who get threadworms, pinworms, or seatworms?
A: No, that is incorrect. Children aged between 5 to 14 years are the most susceptible but adults are just as likely to become infected if threadworm eggs become spread around their home environment. Good hygiene can reduce the chances of becoming infected but threadworms are highly contagious and the eggs are easily swallowed or inhaled.
Q: Can I catch threadworms, pinworms, or seatworms from my family pet?
A: Pets like cats and dogs are not part of the threadworm's life cycle. Threadworms only live in human hosts. Pets can play a part in spreading the eggs of threadworms if an infected person pats them or the eggs become attached to their fur or hair. Do not forget to wash you pet after you have begun a worm treatment in order to reduce the chance of reinfection.
Q: How do I know if I have threadworms, pinworms, or seatworms?
A: Threadworms can be difficult to diagnose. The "glue" that the female threadworm uses to attach the eggs to the skin causes itching and discomfort around the anus. Other more general symptoms include restless sleep, irritability, grinding your teeth in your sleep, or a loss of appetite. In rare cases a person may experience some slight stomach pain if it is a particularly large infection. After a bowel motion, the adult threadworms, which can grow up to 1.5cm in length, may be visible in the stool. Read the section on threadworms on this website for other alternative methods of detection.
Q: The itching is driving me nuts. How long before it goes away?
A: Once the threadworms are eradicated from your system the itching should go away within a couple of days.
Q: Why should I repeat the treatment in two weeks. Didn't the treatment work?
A: This is not because the treatment did not work but it due to the possibility that active threadworm eggs may still be present in your home. The anti-worm treatments will only kill the adult worms in the intestines at the time of treatment. Any eggs that have already become dispersed in your living environment will remain active for another two or three weeks and may reinfect your family in this time. If you suspect that there is a chance of reinfection then it is a good idea to repeat the treatment in order to break the threadworms' life cycle. Cleaning and vacuuming the house, especially in the bedrooms and bathrooms, will reduce the chances of reinfection. Washing bedding and clothes in hot water will also help to kill any remaining eggs.
Q: Is this why I should usually treat the whole family at the same time?
A: Yes. Not everyone will show the symptoms of a threadworm infestation. If one member of the family remains infected then they could easily spread the eggs again and cause everyone else becoming reinfected. By treating everyone at the same time this risk is reduced.
Q: I just read about some of the other types of worms and it totally freaked me out! Am I really at risk from these worms?
A: The chances of contracting these sorts of worm infections are, thankfully, rare. They are usually only found in topical or sub-topical regions of densely populated countries with inefficient and unsanitary methods of disposing of human waste. A good standard of hygiene is the best preventative measure against these sorts of infections. Obviously, if you travel to a region where this sort of worm infection is more common then the risk of infestation is greater. The complication with many of these worm infections is the lack of clear-cut symptoms. If you suspect that you have a more serious type of worm infection then see your doctor because they are the only ones who can help you find out for sure.