Worm infestations happen when worms affect the intestines and other parts of the body. Examples of the different worms are roundworms, whipworms, hookworms, tapeworms and flukes.
A patient with a mild infestation might not show any symptoms. However, some may experience itching around the anal area. The itch normally happens at night when the female worm lays eggs at the areas surrounding the anus. Other symptoms include
- Poor appetite which can cause weight loss
- Stomach discomfort, diarrhea, nausea
- Poor sleep
- Being unable to concentrate
- Spotting worms in your stool during bowel movement
A worm infestation spreads most commonly through passing of the worm eggs from the anus to the mouth. Worm eggs are often found under the fingernails of the infected person who has scratched the area around the anus. When the infected person uses their contaminated fingers to handle food and eat, the eggs are transferred directly from the anus to the mouth.
Eggs that fall off the areas surrounding the anus into the environment can also be breathed in. Eggs may also be spread by house dust, from pets or through contact with contaminated objects such as bedding, cups, utensils or doorknobs.
What you can do
- Keep fingernails short to prevent the transfer of eggs to the fingernails and avoid biting nails. Cut and scrub the nails of infected persons with a brush and soap.
- Practice good toilet hygiene such as washing your hands after visiting the toilet to reduce the transfer of worms from the anus to the mouth. Disinfect toilet seats regularly.
- Wash hands before handling food and before meals.
- Make sure your food is cooked properly. Drink safe and clean water.
- Have daily morning showers to remove any eggs that were laid at the area around the anus.
- Wash clothes and bedding with hot water for the whole family. Do not shake these items before you wash them as shaking the clothes or bedding can spread eggs into the air.
- Clean the floor by vacuuming or mopping for a few days after being treated for the worm infestation
- Family members who are in close contact with the infected person should also receive treatment.
When to see a doctor
- If you are pregnant or breast-feeding
- If the child is less than 2 years old
- If you have medical conditions such as anemia or liver diseases
- If your symptoms do not go away after treatment
- If the worm infestation keeps happening
Updated in Nov 2018
This article does not take the place of talking to your doctor or pharmacist. People with special health needs such as babies, children below 12 year old, elderly and pregnant ladies should see a doctor instead of self-treatment. Always read the instructions and warnings on the package before taking any medicine.