Tapeworms vs Pinworms – What’s the Difference?

How to know if you have pinworms: Your nighttime perianal itching strongly supports pinworm infection. Identification of the worm or its eggs allows for diagnosis. About two to three hours after going to sleep, worms can occasionally be observed on the skin close to the anus or on undergarments, pajamas, or sheets.

How to know if you have pinworms: Your nighttime perianal itching strongly supports pinworm infection. Identification of the worm or its eggs allows for diagnosis. About two to three hours after going to sleep, worms can occasionally be observed on the skin close to the anus or on undergarments, pajamas, or sheets.

What is pinworm infection?

An intestinal ailment known as pinworm infection is brought on by tiny, white worms. Although anybody can acquire it, young children are more likely to have it. It is readily cured..

Symptoms of pinworm infection

If your child is infected with pinworms, they may frequently scratch their bottom. Your child may also move around a lot in bed at night or not be able to sleep.

That’s because your child it itchy. The itching is caused by the female pinworm that comes out of the rectum to lay eggs around the anus (the opening to the rectum).

The eggs stay in the upper part of the intestine until they hatch. After they hatch, the worms move down the length of the intestine, and then out the anus where they lay more eggs.

You also may be able to see the tiny, white worms (shorter than 1/2 inch in length) on your child’s bottom at night. Or the worms may show up in your child’s stools.

What causes pinworm infection?

Pinworms are contagious and easily spread, usually from child to child. Pinworm eggs can be picked up on children’s fingers when they’re playing.

When children who are infected scratch their itchy bottoms, the tiny eggs can get under their fingernails. Eggs can stay on your child’s skin for several hours. They can survive for up to 3 weeks on clothes, bedding, and toys.

If the eggs are on your child’s hands or toys and they put their fingers or toys in their mouth, the tiny eggs can enter their bodies. Children who don’t wash their hands thoroughly before eating and children who suck their thumbs are at an increased risk.

Although pinworm infection is more common in school-aged children, anyone can get it. As children who are infected move around the house, the eggs may be spread, and other family members can become infected. Sometimes adults breathe in the eggs when the bed covers are shaken.

However, this isn’t very common. Pets don’t spread pinworms, although they may carry their own kinds of worms.

How to Know if you have Pinworms

How is pinworm infection diagnosed? Because pinworms usually crawl out of the anus while a child sleeps, the tape test is an easy way to find pinworms. It’s best to do this right when your child wakes up and before they use the bathroom or take a bath.

To do the tape test, pat a piece of clear tape on the skin around the anus. Do this for three mornings in a row and save the tape from each morning. Then take the tape to your doctor, who can use a microscope to check for pinworms or eggs.

It’s also possible to see the adult worms around the anus during the tape test.

Can pinworm infection be prevented or avoided?

There are ways to prevent or avoid getting pinworm infection—and reinfections. Follow these tips:

  • Make sure your child washes their hands before a meal and after using the restroom.
  • Keep your child’s fingernails trimmed.
  • Discourage your child from nail-biting and scratching their anal area.
  • Be sure your child changes into a clean pair of underwear each day.
  • Have your child bathe in the morning to reduce egg contamination. If possible, have your child take a shower instead of a bath.
  • Change your child’s night clothes, underwear, and bedding after treatment.

Pinworm treatment

Pinworm infection treatment: Most pinworm infections are mild and easily treated. Your doctor may prescribe a single chewable tablet of a medicine called mebendazole.

A second tablet is taken about 3 weeks later if the infection isn’t cured. Or your doctor may recommend another kind of medicine called pyrantel, which is taken as a single dose.

Even if only one child in your family has pinworms, it’s often important that everyone in the household be treated with the pinworm medicine at the same time.

Living with pinworm infection

Pinworm infection is very contagious. If you don’t take precautions, it’s easy to become reinfected. If anyone in your home has pinworms, take these steps to get rid of the pinworm eggs. Doing so will minimize your chances of reinfection.

  • Wash all the sheets, blankets, towels, and clothing in the house in hot water.
  • Carefully clean everyone’s fingernails (which may hold the worm eggs) and cut them short.
  • Scrub toys, countertops, floors, and other surfaces the infected child has touched.
  • Vacuum carpets.

Tapeworms vs Pinworms

As a kid, you may have heard that only dirty people get worms. In fact, you can get pinworms and tapeworms no matter how often you take a bath. But most of the time, these parasites are easy to get rid of.

Difference between pinworms and tapeworms: Pinworms are also called “threadworms.” They’re the most common type of intestinal worm infection in the U.S., and one of the most common in the world. They’re thin and white, and about one-quarter to one-half inch long — about as long as a staple.

Tapeworms are flatworms that look a bit like ribbons. Their bodies are made up of segments, and each segment is about the size of a grain of rice. Adult tapeworms can grow to be 30 feet — almost as long as the average school bus. Fortunately, infections caused by them are rare in the U.S.

How do you get them?

Pinworms are spread from feces to the mouth. It can happen directly, like when your dirty fingers touch your mouth or food.

It can also happen indirectly, like when you touch an object that’s contaminated with eggs. Tiny pinworm eggs can live on surfaces — toys, bathroom fixtures, school desks, or bed linens — for up to 3 weeks.

Once inside your body, pinworms make a home in your colon and rectum. At night, female worms come outside to lay eggs in the skin around your anus.

If you scratch the area, the eggs get on your fingers or under your nails, then wipe off on the next thing you touch. This is why pinworms are spread so easily among young children.

Tapeworms can live outside for months, waiting for a host to come along. You’re most at risk if you work around livestock or travel to a country where hygiene is poor.

You can also be infected if you eat or drink something that contains tapeworm eggs or larvae, like raw or undercooked beef or pork.

Once inside your body, the tapeworm head attaches to the wall of your intestines. It uses the food you eat to grow new segments. The older segments, which contain eggs, then break off and leave your body with your poop.

What are the symptoms?

Most of the time, there aren’t any. You might have anal itching, especially at night. You could also have stomach pain, nausea, or vaginal itching.

Sometimes pinworms can be seen around your anus or on your underwear or bed sheets about 2 to 3 hours after you’ve gone to bed.

Most of the time, pinworms don’t cause major problems. But in rare cases, they can cause infections of the vagina and uterus.

If you have a tapeworm infection, you may not have any symptoms. But some people have nausea, stomach pain, weakness, or diarrhea.

You might notice a change in appetite (eating more or less than usual). And since the tapeworm keeps your body from absorbing nutrients from food, you may lose weight.

If you get tapeworm from eating pork (it’s actually called the pork tapeworm), the eggs enter your bloodstream and hatch in your tissues. There, they form fluid-filled cysts, which doctors call “cysticercosis.”

This can cause a wide range of possible symptoms, depending on where the cysts develop and how much inflammation they cause. Some of these may include vision changes, lumps on the skin, neurologic changes, or seizures.

How are you diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects you have pinworms, they may ask you to do a “tape test.” As soon as you wake up in the morning, you’ll place a piece of clear tape around your anus, then gently peel it off. Any pinworm eggs will stick to the tape, which your doctor can see under a microscope in a lab.

A tapeworm infection is usually diagnosed by finding eggs or tapeworm segments in the stool. Your doctor may ask you to bring in a sample so a lab can look for eggs, larvae, or tapeworm segments.

A blood test can spot antigens, foreign substances that let your doctor know your body is trying to fight the infection. Sometimes, an MRI or CAT scan can find cysts formed by the pork tapeworm.

What’s the treatment?

Some over-the-counter medicines kill pinworms. Your doctor also could prescribe you an anti-parasite medicine. The most common one is albendazole.

Everyone in your family should be treated — even if they don’t have symptoms. Two doses are often needed to ensure the infection is gone for good.

Sometimes you don’t need to do anything about a tapeworm. It could leave your body on its own. But if your doctor finds it, they can prescribe a medicine like praziquantel or nitazoxanide.

These will either kill the adult worms or cause you to poop them out. But they won’t kill the eggs, which can still cause infections. You’ll likely need to give your doctor a stool sample for a few months to make sure all the worms are gone.

It’s harder to treat an infection caused by tapeworm cysts. In addition to the medicine that kills the tapeworm, you may need medicine to reduce inflammation or other symptoms, like seizures, that you’re having.

Depending on where your cysts are and how many you have, you may need surgery to remove them.

How do you prevent worms?

To avoid being infected with either pinworms or tapeworms, it’s crucial that you wash your hands with soap and water before eating or handling food and after going to the bathroom or changing diapers.

Here are some other ways to prevent them:

  • Keep your fingernails clipped short.
  • Take a shower or bath every day (in the morning is best).
  • Try not to scratch around your anus or between your legs.
  • Wash your clothes and bed linens often.

Symptoms of pinworms in adults

Symptoms of pinworm

  • itchy bottom, especially at night.
  • reduced appetite.
  • feeling mildly unwell.
  • inflammation of the vagina.
  • adult worms can sometimes be seen in the faeces, and eggs may be seen clinging to the skin around the anus.
  • irritability and behavioural changes.

Can pinworms kill you?

The parasite Enterobius vermicularis, commonly referred to as “pinworms,” resembles threads. Though it seldom results in death, it is the most prevalent helminth infection that affects children’s gastrointestinal systems globally.

Complications: Most pinworm infections don’t result in significant issues. In rare cases, female genital infections can result from severe infestations. From the anal region, the parasite can pass through the vagina, the uterus, the fallopian tubes, and the pelvic organs.

Can you feel pinworms moving?

Most of the time, none exist. Anal irritation is possible, especially at night. Additionally, you can have nausea, vaginal itching, or stomach pain. After two to three hours of sleep, you may occasionally notice pinworms on your underpants, bed linens, or near your anus.

However, the most popular and useful over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription drugs for pinworm infections are mebendazole (Vermox) and albendazole (Albenza). Pyrantel Pamoate, often known as Reese’s Pinworm Medicine.

How to check for pinworms

As soon as you believe someone has pinworms, you test them by applying the sticky side of a transparent tape to the skin surrounding their anus as soon as they wake up. The tape is stuck to the eggs. The doctor can use the tape to search for pinworms or eggs under a microscope when you bring it to your visit.

What do pinworm eggs look like?

The pinworms are white, about the length of a staple (about 8–13 mm for females and 2–5 mm for men), and visible without the need for magnification. The transparent eggs deposited by the female worms have a diameter of around 55 micrometers, making them invisible.

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