Pinworms Were Living In This Woman's Anus for Months—Here's What That Means

Having worms living in your butt isn't actually as terrifying as it sounds.

There are a lot of scary diagnoses out there, but having worms living in your anus? That has to take the cake.

A report in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) tells the tale of a 32-year-old woman who went to the doctor complaining of anal itching and bleeding for about two months. Doctors performed a colonoscopy to see what was going on, and lo and behold, they found a mama pinworm carrying eggs. *shudders*

Apparently the woman's 5-year-old daughter had classmates who had recently been diagnosed with pinworms, and the daughter had been experiencing anal itching, too.

While this sounds like a terrifying diagnosis, it's actually more common than you think, especially in children. Pinworm infection, caused by a white roundworm with the scientific name Enterobius vermicularis, is the most common type of intestinal worm infection in the US, according to the Mayo Clinic. As many as 50% of kids pick up the infection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports.

People catch these parasites by accidentally swallowing their eggs.

"When people who are infected touch their anus, the eggs attach to their fingertips," the US Library of Medicine explains. "They can spread the eggs to others directly through their hands, or through contaminated clothing, bedding, food, or other articles."

Then, once the eggs hatch, the pinworms make themselves at home in the colon and rectum, and female pinworms lay eggs on the skin around the anus while a person sleeps. Cue itching around the anus or vagina.

Luckily, pinworm infections don't usually lead to any complications. They can be treated with over-the-counter or prescription oral medications that kill parasitic worm. The medication is typically given in two doses two weeks apart to help prevent reinfection, according to the CDC.

That was the case for the mom and daughter in the NEJM report. They were both treated with a prescription drug and all symptoms had disappeared at their two-month follow-up. (Phew.)

The thought of a pinworm infection might make your skin crawl, but fortunately, they're pretty harmless and can be treated quite easily.

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