Threadworms is an infection of the large intestine as a result of small thread-like parasitic worms. It often goes unnoticed by those who have threadworms, which is mainly children, however anyone of any age can get them.
They are often noticed by the appearance of tiny, white-coloured pieces of thread that appear in stool, or appear near to the back passage (anus). Occasionally, the worms may show up on bedding or pyjamas.
Threadworms generally survive in the gut for 5-6 weeks before dying. Before they die, the female worms lay tiny eggs around the anus, mainly at night. The eggs are accompanied by a mucus, which causes itching – often done unknowingly when we are asleep. When people scratch this itch, eggs can get onto fingers and under finger nails, and people can even swallow the eggs by putting their fingers in their mouth.
Eggs are also passed onto other surfaces by touching them, which can then pass to other people who touch the surface and then touch their mouth. They take around 2 weeks to hatch. Following this, it’s another 2 weeks to become full size, when they will reproduce and the cycle begins all over again.
Threadworms are often treated as a single-dose tablet, which should also be taken by the rest of your household in case other people you live with are carrying unhatched eggs. This is the period before the onset of threadworm symptoms.
Although there are other similar treatments, Vermox (Mebendazole) is the main medication that is used to treat threadworms. It comes in either a chewable tablet form or as a liquid that you swallow, and works by stopping the threadworms from absorbing sugar, which means they should die within a few days.
Infants and toddlers between the ages of 6 months and 2 years must be prescribed this medicine by their own doctor.