While you can have both pinworms and eczema, so far, there’s no evidence that pinworms actually cause eczema.

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A pinworm infection is never fun, but can it cause eczema? Pinworms do lead to intense itchiness but to date, researchers have found no connection to eczema.

Read on to learn more about pinworms and eczema.

There’s conflicting research on whether pinworms or other intestinal parasitic worms are connected to eczema or other allergic reactions. A 2021 study that looked at children in Angola found that there was no significant connection between pinworms and eczema.

An older study from 2005 in Germany found that there was no connection between pinworms and eczema and that worm infestations may actually play a role in preventing allergies. Meanwhile, another older study in Cuba did suggest that pinworms could increase a person’s risk of developing eczema.

Pinworms are known to cause rashes and skin issues around the affected area, which may be mistaken for eczema because the symptoms could look similar, with a red, itching rash. In this case, it’s important to consider the location of the affected areas to help determine the underlying cause.

More research is needed to determine whether different intestinal parasites can cause eczema, and the connection will vary depending on what type of parasite is causing the infection.

Some studies suggest that having intestinal worms can decrease the risk of developing skin or food allergies in children. However, these studies also suggest that some children who are infected by Ascaris roundworms may have an increased risk of atopy, a predisposition to developing allergies, including atopic dermatitis. This area of study needs more research.

Other cases show a connection. For instance, a 2018 case study found that the intestinal parasite Ascaris lumbricoides, a large roundworm, did lead to widespread eczema in a 12-year-old girl. In general, more studies are needed to determine the connection between intestinal parasites and eczema.

Pinworms are small, thin, white roundworms, that can be found in soil and feces and can infect and live in the colon and rectum of humans.

Pinworm infection

A pinworm infection, also known as enterobiasis or oxyuriasis, is the most common worm infection in the United States. It occurs when pinworms enter and replicate within the colon, and symptoms start when female pinworms deposit their eggs on the skin surrounding the anus. This causes extreme itching and discomfort.

Pinworm symptoms

The symptoms of pinworms include:

  • intense and frequent itching of the perianal area (the area around the anus)
  • difficulty sleeping due to itching and discomfort
  • rash, or skin irritation, around the anus
  • visible pinworms in your perianal area
  • visible pinworms in your stool

You can get pinworms by eating or breathing in microscopic pinworm eggs, typically via food that contains feces. The eggs then remain in your intestine until they’re mature enough to hatch. Once hatched, the females lay eggs on and around the anus.

When a person with pinworms scratches the impacted area, the eggs transfer to their nails and fingers and can spread to anything the person touches. Pinworms can live on clothes, bedding, and other surfaces for up to 2 to 3 weeks.

Pinworms diagnosis

Pinworms are primarily diagnosed based on clinical evaluation. A doctor will take a history and take into account the symptoms you describe.

A useful test is known as the scotch tape test, which involves placing the tape on your anus three nights in a row. A doctor will then analyze the pieces of tape under a microscope to look for the pinworms.

Pinworm treatment

Pinworm infections are treated with either over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications and household cleaning practices. If you believe you or your child has pinworms, speak with a doctor or healthcare professional right away.

Risk factors for pinworms and other parasitic infections

Parasitic infections like pinworms affect people of all ages and geographic regions. Risk factors vary for different parasitic infections.

However, there are certain risk factors that may make certain groups more susceptible to pinworm infections in particular. These include:

  • attending day care or elementary school
  • sucking your thumb
  • biting your fingernails
  • living in close quarters, such as college dorms or institutions
  • not regularly washing your hands before eating
  • having family members or roommates who have a pinworm infection

Eczema, also called atopic dermatitis, is a term for several skin conditions caused by inflammation that can lead to redness, itching, or rashes on the skin.

In children, commonly affected areas include:

  • scalp
  • face
  • knees
  • elbows

In adults, eczema is more common in areas where the joint bends and folded skin touches, such as the inside the elbow and behind the knees.

Eczema isn’t contagious and is extremely common. According to the National Eczema Association, more than 31 million Americans experience it.

Eczema symptoms

Eczema symptoms vary greatly and affect everyone differently. Some of the most common symptoms include:

If eczema is very severe, it can be complicated by a skin infection, which, if left untreated, can lead to serious complications. If you’re concerned, you should talk with a dermatologist or primary care doctor.

Eczema diagnosis

Eczema is diagnosed with a thorough examination of your or your child’s skin to see the signs and symptoms, including redness, scaliness, dryness, or hyperpigmentation.

Eczema is often associated with hay fever and asthma due to a shared genetic origin of the three conditions. A doctor may ask you a few questions about whether you have these conditions to help diagnose your eczema.

Eczema treatment

There’s no cure for eczema, but there are many treatments that you can discuss with a dermatologist or allergist.

There are three main things to keep in mind when treating eczema:

  • Know your triggers so you can avoid them. Common triggers include:
    • harsh chemicals used in cleaning products
    • certain fragrances or oils
    • hot water
    • stress
    • sweat
  • Create a daily bathing and moisturizing routine.
  • Use OTC or prescription medications as needed or prescribed.

Because eczema varies so greatly from person to person, there’s no single way to treat it. Your regimen will depend greatly on the type and severity of your condition.

Can I get pinworms again even if I was already infected once?

Yes, even if you’ve had pinworms before and were treated, you can get them again if you’re exposed. The best thing to do is to make sure you always wash your hands after using the bathroom and before you eat.

Will pinworms go away even if I don’t get treatment?

No, pinworms aren’t like bacteria and viruses that cause common infections. The body isn’t able to clear pinworm infections alone and people don’t generate the same immunity to pinworms as they do to bacterial or viral infections. Effective treatment requires oral medications to ensure the elimination of the pinworms.

Pinworms are common intestinal parasites that cause intense itching, pain, and discomfort in the perianal area.

Although the symptoms of a pinworm infection may be similar to those of eczema, including itching, redness, and rash, there’s no evidence that pinworms cause eczema.

If you or your child have either or both conditions, it’s important to talk with a doctor or healthcare professional about your treatment options.