Pinworm infection is the most common intestinal parasite infection in the United States. It often occurs in school-aged children, partly because they’re generally less diligent about hand washing. Young children often share items and brush up against each other while playing, which can put them at risk for reinfection.
You can easily ingest these parasites without knowing it. After ingestion, they can travel through your digestive system and lay their eggs in the skin folds near your anus. This may cause you to experience burning or extreme itchiness around your anus. Some people won’t experience any symptoms.
If you or a loved one has a pinworm infection, everyone in your household should be treated.
Are there home remedies for pinworms?
Although remedies to treat pinworms exist, they aren’t a recommended first-line treatment. Support for the use of these home remedies is primarily anecdotal. This means that scientific data doesn’t support the use of home remedies for pinworms.
What may work for someone else may not work for you. If you have allergies, you should be careful when trying home remedies. If you’re concerned about a potential reaction, you should test the remedy on a small patch of skin before applying it to the affected area.
Here are three home remedies that you can try to treat your pinworm infection:
Garlic is said to kill any existing eggs and prevent female pinworms from laying more eggs. You can ingest it in small doses or apply it topically like a salve. If you wish to ingest the garlic, dice up a clove and mix it into pasta or sprinkle it on bread. You can also eat the garlic on its own.
To create a salve, chop up a few cloves of garlic and grind them into a paste. Mix the garlic paste with a small amount of petroleum jelly or other base oil. Dip a clean cotton swab into the mixture and apply the salve to your anus. Do not use if you have sensitive skin, if the area has a burning sensation, or if you have broken skin, hemorrhoids, or inflammation in the area.
Coconut is said to have antibacterial and antiviral properties that may help clear a pinworm infection. This treatment requires a two-step approach. Swallow a teaspoon of pure coconut oil each morning. Before you go to bed, rub a small amount of coconut oil into the affected area.
It’s thought that eating a cup of raw, shredded carrots twice per day can help your body push the worms through your intestines. This is because the fiber-rich carrots can improve digestion and promote bowel movement.
When to see your doctor
If you think that you or a loved one may have a pinworm infection, you should skip the home remedies and seek immediate medical attention. Pinworms are contagious, and delaying treatment can put those around you at risk.
If you do choose to try a home remedy, you should discontinue use and consult your doctor if:
- your symptoms persist
- you experience stomach cramps
- blood is present in your urine or stool
Your doctor can determine what’s causing your symptoms and determine whether you have successfully cleared the infection.
How are pinworms typically treated?
Pyrantel pamoate is in most over-the-counter (OTC) treatments for pinworms. This includes Reese’s Pinworm Medication and Pin-X. Prescription-strength medications are also available. Your doctor may prescribe a two-dose treatment of mebendazole or albendazole to help you clear the infection. The second dose of medication is typically given two weeks after the first dose.
You’ll also need to make adjustments to your personal hygiene and home care. Follow these tips:
- Wash your hands regularly.
- Keep your fingernails short, and refrain from biting your nails.
- Wear tight underwear.
- Wash your underwear in hot water each day.
- Change your sleepwear regularly.
- Mop or vacuum the floors in all living spaces.
- Wash all linens and bedding in hot water.
If you’re using a home remedy and your symptoms haven’t subsided within a few days, you should consult your doctor. If you believe your body has cleared the infection, you should still follow up with your doctor to ensure that your condition is no longer contagious.
If you’re using an OTC medication, your symptoms will likely subside within three days of your first dose. The infection is still considered contagious for the following three weeks. This is because any eggs that have been laid can hatch and further the spread of the infection. You should take your medication correctly and consistently to get rid of the pinworms.
Tips for prevention
Frequent hand-washing with soap and warm water is the best way to prevent reinfection. You should always wash your hands:
- after using the bathroom
- after changing a diaper
- before eating
- before touching your mouth
You may also consider keeping your nails short. Pinworm eggs can become trapped under your nails. You can later ingest them if your hands haven’t been washed properly. Keeping your nails short may help prevent this. Learn more about pinworm infections and how to prevent them.