Pinworms are tiny, thin worms that can infect the colon and intestines of humans. People of all ages can get pinworm infections, but they tend to affect children or those who live in close quarters.
Pinworm infection is the most common worm infection in the United States. It is highly contagious and spreads quickly from person to person through ingestion or inhalation of the eggs.
Pinworm infections occur when a female pinworm lays eggs in the folds of skin around the anus. This causes intense itching, particularly at nighttime.
When the infected person scratches the anal area, eggs can get on the fingers and under the fingernails and contaminate items such as bedding and clothing. People living in the same household as the infected person may come into contact with the eggs and also get an infection.
It is possible to have a pinworm infection with no symptoms at all, so it is essential that all members of the household receive treatment.
Some people may be interested in natural home remedies to get rid of pinworms.
While there are some popular home remedies for pinworms, there is little scientific evidence to support their use.
People who believe that they have a pinworm infection should seek medical attention first. They can then use the home remedies below as complementary treatments.
Early studies suggest that the herb wormwood may be effective as a treatment for some parasitic infections.
People can use wormwood by making it into a tea or tincture. It is best to speak to a doctor before trying it and to limit its use to a maximum of 4 weeks.
People have used wormwood for centuries to treat pinworm, and it has also featured in veterinary medicine too. However, there is no scientific evidence to prove that wormwood is effective for pinworm infections in humans.
Garlic is known for its antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal effects. Some people use it as a complementary remedy for pinworm, hookworm, and roundworm infections.
To use garlic, people can eat the cloves raw or use chopped garlic in a variety of dishes. Alternatively, they can mix finely minced garlic with petroleum jelly to form a paste, which they can apply directly to the skin in the anal area.
However, it is vital not to apply the paste to hemorrhoids, areas of skin breakdown, or irritated skin.
Raw carrots are rich in fiber, which can help keep the digestive system healthy and promote regular bowel movements.
Researchers do not know whether carrots fight against pinworms directly, but they may help push the pinworms out of the intestines.
Unless a person has an allergy to carrots, eating them raw is a safe home remedy. It is best to wash carrots first to eliminate bacteria and pesticides.
Pumpkin seeds contain a compound called cucurbitacin. Very early studies suggested that this compound might make pumpkin seeds effective against internal parasites. In fact, the United States Pharmacopoeia listed pumpkin seeds as a treatment for intestinal parasites in the years 1863–1936.
It is possible to eat pumpkin seeds or blend them with water to form a paste to eat. However, there is no recent evidence to suggest that pumpkin seeds can help get rid of pinworms.
Coconut oil has a range of different household and health uses. It is a popular home remedy for pinworms, as many people believe that applying the oil around the anal area can prevent the female from laying eggs there.
Some people also ingest a teaspoon of pure coconut oil each morning. As long as people are not allergic to the oil, it is safe for them to try this. However, there is no scientific evidence that coconut oil is an effective remedy for pinworms.
A 2012 study in rats demonstrated that papaya seeds could treat worm infections. However, no studies in humans show that they are effective. To use this treatment, a person can eat papaya seeds, either on their own or with honey to sweeten them.
The standard medical treatment for pinworm infections is medication, but people must also remove all traces of the worms from the household by cleaning and adopting good hygiene practices.
As pinworms pass easily from one person to another, doctors recommend that everyone in the household receives treatment to help prevent reinfection.
The most common and effective prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications for pinworm infections include:
- mebendazole (Vermox)
- albendazole (Albenza)
- pyrantel pamoate (Reese's Pinworm Medicine)
A typical course of medication will consist of an initial dose and then a second dose a couple of weeks later.
It is also essential to keep the house clean and practice good hygiene during treatment. Hygiene practices and household cleaning strategies should include:
- washing all bed linen, pajamas, and towels in hot water
- vacuuming carpets and mopping floors frequently
- washing the hands regularly, especially after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before eating
- cleaning all surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom thoroughly on a daily basis
- keeping fingernails clean and short and not biting them
- bathing daily
- changing underwear every day
- not sharing towels and washcloths
- not shaking items that may contain pinworm eggs, such as bed linens, clothing, and towels
Pinworm infections do not usually cause severe complications, but they can disrupt sleep and reduce a person's quality of life.
Some people may wish to try using home remedies for pinworms. However, if symptoms persist, it is best to see a doctor to obtain the proper treatment and eradicate the infection.
Pinworm infections are straightforward to treat with medication and good hygiene practices.