How to Tell If You Have Pinworms or Threadworms

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Pinworms, also called threadworms and seatworms, are parasites that infect the body when you unknowingly touch their eggs and ingest them. MedlinePlus says female pinworms infect the body by traveling through the digestive tract and laying eggs near the anus and vaginal region. KidsHealth says pinworms (threadworms) look like small, white, thin pieces of thread, but the eggs are too small to see without a microscope. Though children commonly get pinworms, adults are also susceptible because they transfer from person to person and from touching infected items. Pinworm infections are often asymptomatic; however, you can experience a few uncomfortable symptoms.

Things You'll Need

  • Flashlight
  • Cellophane tape
  • Glass slide
  • Check for rashes caused by scratching and skin irritations. Pinworms cause itching in the anus and vaginal region, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Itching usually occurs at night, making it hard to get a good night's sleep and causing skin rashes from constant scratching. If you can't see your backside, get someone to assist you in checking the area.

  • Look for worms in the toilet and in your underwear. KidsHealth.com says pinworms live in the intestine and colon and leave the body via the digestive tract. If you have a pinworm infection, you will see worms in the toilet after using the restroom. The parasites also appear on the underwear when you wake up in the morning.

  • Perform the flashlight test at night. PubMed Health.com suggests doing the flashlight test as the first diagnostic tool to check for pinworms. You need to shine a flashlight in the rectal area to see if worms come out of the opening. If you don't see worms the first time you take the test, do it two or three more times to make sure no worms appear.

  • Take the tape test to check for the presence of pinworm eggs. PubMed Health says to take a 1-inch piece of cellophane tape and press the sticky side on the anus. Transfer the tape to a glass slide, with the sticky side facing down. You may have to do the test two or three times before you get a significant number of eggs.

  • Bring the slide to your doctor so he can examine the sample under a microscope. Be prepared to tell your doctor how long you've experienced itching, the magnitude of your symptoms and if symptoms occur at night. Mayo Clinic.com says doctors will want to know if you are around children and if other family members have the same symptoms.

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