There’s truth in the saying “prevention is better than cure”. In Australia, when someone gets worms, it’s usually a case of threadworm (also known as pinworm) infection. And while worms are more common in children, they can affect anyone in the family. So how can you prevent worms before they set up shop in your household?
Catching threadworms occurs when you get worm eggs on your hands and then ingest them by putting contaminated hands or fingers in your mouth. Practicing personal good hygiene is key to preventing worms. Good hygiene includes:
– Keeping your fingernails short, scrubbing under your fingernails and not biting your nails
– Frequently washing your hands, particularly before eating and after visiting the toilet
– Wear close-fitted underwear at night
– Change and wash underwear and nightwear daily
– Have a bath or shower each morning and clean around your bottom
Beyond your personal hygiene there are also things you can do around the house to help prevent eggs from spreading, including:
– Wash bed linen daily if possible
– Avoid sharing towels
– Keep toilets clean – Vacuum regularly and thoroughly
Threadworm treatment with medicines such as VERMOX usually only require a single dose to kill mature adult worms that are present in the intestines. Because reinfection is quite common, a follow-up dose taken 2 to 3 weeks after the initial dose is recommended to ensure that any new or surviving adult worms are also eliminated. It is extremely important that when one person in the family has a threadworm infection, the entire household is treated at the same time, regardless of whether they are infected or not. Treating everyone at the same time – as well as maintaining good hygiene – is critical for breaking the cycle of infection and a key part of how to prevent pinworm reinfection.
VERMOX kills adult threadworms with one dose. VERMOX can also treat infections with hookworm, roundworm, and whipworm, but you should talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking VERMOX for these worm infections.
Female threadworms usually lay their eggs during the night, so worms may be visible on underwear, bed sheets, or around your bottom in the morning. Pinworm eggs are pretty tiny but can be picked up from around the bottom using a piece of sticky tape. A doctor can look at this tape under the microscope to identify the threadworm eggs and confirm a threadworm infection.
When washing underwear, nightwear, bed linen and towels, a hot water wash will kill worm eggs.
Threadworm eggs can survive for a few days outside the human body – and even over 2 weeks under the right conditions. While unlikely, it is possible that your dog or cat could end up with threadworm eggs in their fur after being patted by contaminated hands, which could then be passed to another family member.
Disinfectants when cleaning the toilet will help get rid of eggs. Just remember to store disinfectant out of reach of children.
Good hand washing hygiene requires you to rub your hands together with soap for at least 20 seconds making sure you cover all surfaces.