A pinworm is a thin, white parasite that looks like a little worm. People swallow the egg and it develops into a pinworm in the large intestine of the human. While the host sleeps, the female exits the intestine. It deposits eggs on the skin surrounding the anus.
Pinworm infection is common worldwide. It affects people of any age, sex, and socioeconomic status. It usually affects more than one person and the eggs spread from the anus to the mouth. People do not realize they are swallowing the eggs. They may be on fingers, under the fingernails or other contaminated surfaces or objects. The eggs can survive on contaminated objects for up to three weeks.
The itching sensation is probably due to the female depositing the eggs on the skin. The female lays her eggs in a jelly-like substance and this is what causes the itching. It tends to be worse at night and can sometimes cause a disturbance while sleeping. Scratching is a natural response to itching but it can tear the skin and prevent it from healing. Cotton gloves may help to prevent scratching during sleep. Eggs spread because they end up on fingers and under fingernails. Washing hands, scrubbing fingernails and keeping them short can help to prevent infection and re-infection.
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