What is Enterobius Vermicularis?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 10 August 2019
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Enterobius vermicularis may be better known to most people as pinworms or threadworms, and are responsible for some of the most common human parasite infections. Worm eggs are usually ingested and then prodigious egg laying occurs at night right at the anal opening. This translates to frustrating anal itching, which most people can’t help scratching, leading to re-infections or easy transmittal of the worms from one person to another. Sometimes if one person in a family gets an Enterobius vermicularis infection, doctors treat everyone else in the household concurrently.

It might be fair to state that an Enterobius vermicularis infection is relatively mild and unlikely to cause severe complications. Eggs that enter the body situate in the gut and rapidly mature. After males mate, they die and are passed out of the body in the stool, but the females move to the anus each night to lay new eggs.

The most telling symptom of pinworms is cause by this egg laying behavior; it may irritate skin and the anus can itch quite a lot. Itching sometimes causes lack of sleep, so irritability or other poor sleep symptoms could be noted. Females are also prone to vaginal itching, since sometimes pinworms may lay eggs near the vagina.


Though rare, difficulty can occur if people have profuse collections of Enterobius vermicularis. They may start to lose weight, which is usually a direct result of appetite loss. Though complications aren’t frequent with pinworms, they still need to be eradicated so they’re not passed onto others.

With the above symptom of itchy anus particularly in children or in people who have children, threadworms should be suspected. One diagnostic tool, especially with kids, is to look at the anus after the child has gone to sleep. There may be pinworms that extrude from it. Another method is to use scotch tape briefly on the anus to collect potential evidence of eggs. This could then be lab tested. People can also visit their doctors for diagnosis.

There are many important steps to getting rid of Enterobius vermicularis. Doctors will usually prescribe an antiparisitic medication that is taken for a few weeks to kill the worms. Preventing reinfection is just as vital. This means discouraging any hand to anus scratching, washing hands after bathroom use, keeping the toilets in the home clean, and making sure that underclothes, bedclothes, and shared linens like towels are changed frequently and washed thoroughly.

It’s not uncommon for failure of the above steps to lead to reinfection, and being treated with medicine doesn’t make people invulnerable to infection in the future. The disease probably most frequently occurs in school age children because hygiene is not good, and kids can easily pass the eggs on their hands to other kids, where they enter the body orally. It’s important to encourage appropriate handwashing to reduce infections originating at schools.


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