Lice is horrible but worms? Far worse. I remember having lice in grade seven. I was so very, very itchy that even typing the word inspires a scratch. The removal involves some checking, which I loved to receive as a child. In fact, to my mother's chagrin, my fourth grade teacher brought up her concern at a parent teaching meeting that I was constantly asking when the health unit would be coming in for a lice check. This scalp massaging, oops, checking is followed by the washing, combing x100, and lots of laundry. You can also hire it out to the lice bars and salons... pure gold. But let me tell you there is something much worse that no one can hire out and that is pinworms.
Things to know about pinworms/threadworms (spoiler alert... they are all gross, every single step):
Worms can live in the intestines for about five to six weeks and then they die, however, the females lay eggs. Where do they lay eggs? The anus and sometimes in the vagina or urethra for girls. They can lay approximately, insert dry heave, 11,000 of them. The eggs grow up in about two weeks, and then more egg laying. Cycle repeats. Awesome.
Like lice, this too is about scratching, but not an itchy head. We are talking about toddlers walking around looking like they are constantly adjusting thongs. I totally missed this, I mean kids can rummage, but on reflection I realized... “that was what was going on down there!”. Also, if you are wondering why bedwetting is back or increased, that is the worms again. Another symptom is interrupted sleep. We were completely experiencing this with our toddler and wondering why, oh why we were back to this stage. I feel bad now as I thought he was trying to mess with us. You see worms, eggs, the mucus the worms produce... all itchy. Plus all of this can make a child understandably irritable. The whole thing is, and this is a huge understatement, irritating.
You aren't dragging two spare chopsticks through a head of hair for these little fellas, try dissecting the feces. Another way to find them is an all out recognizance mission. It requires a flashlight, some prying of the butt cheeks and the dark of night. I can imagine children awakening to this are keeping this little gem from their childhood buried somewhere deep in their little psyches, but it is a common way you can find the tiny worms who seek the light when shined down upon. Another CSI move for this? Take some clear tape to the anus first thing in the morning before bathing. Parenting is so glamorous, isn't it?
We are eating these parasites and breathing them in! Yes, yuck! This can come from utensils, bedding, clothes, toothbrushes, basically, if it can be touched it can be transferred! And if that hand then comes to the person's mouth... well you get the idea. Plus, don't shake the bedding - the worms will just shake onto things you aren't thinking to throw in the laundry.
No one is immune! This spreads to adults too and 1/3 of children in Canada will get it at some point. So if your child has it, you probably do too. I am not sure we talk about it much in North America, as it is sort of a Lord Voldemort "dare not speak it's name lest we get it" situation, but many of my friends from South Africa know it is commonplace and just add a dose of worm medication to their yearly health precautions.
Worms certainly have grit, I can give them that -they can live for two weeks outside the body. Two weeks! Meaning while you are doing never ending laundry, vacuuming, disinfectant spraying, basically the overall cleaning of (or setting fire to) the entire house, they might still be hatching. Obviously the first thing you need to do is get treatment. The treatment isn't too bad, just some over the counter oral medication, and guess what... sometimes you might need to do another dose. And guess what has happened to all that clean laundry since the last dose? Plus the medication will only kill the live worms and not the eggs. Oh, it messes with you.
Every morning all bedding and towels washed, no sharing of towels, make sure you are hand washing always, and try to keep all of this especially vigorous for the next month and a half.
So that is the disgusting details of worms. My good friend had it at their house and a couple members of her family had to have multiple treatments. She looked exhausted, forlorn, and grossed out! It isn't pretty, but it happens, so break the silence. Have a laugh and be ready for the most disgusting (that I've certainly experienced to date) of this, one of the most easily spread and common childhood infections.