The lowdown on threadworms

by Sally Maxwell

It was the small subtle changes in my nearly four year old that caught my eye.

The constant urge to put a hand down the back of his pants, a sudden drop in appetite, difficulty falling asleep and a temper to shame the Hulk. Initially I put all these symptoms down to new clothing, being over tired and over stimulated from the holiday season. He was also saying some strange things like “Mum, it feels like I have a shower in my bottom!” Once we returned home from our camping holiday, I started to piece the symptoms together. That night at bedtime, I grabbed a torch and checked out his bum. Yep, being a mum brings all sorts of joy! As I squinted and half winced staring into the light I saw one tiny white wiggle – SPOTTO, we have worms!

Here’s the low down on threadworms aka itchy bum…

What to look out for

  • Change in behaviour – mood swings (I know this one can be tricky to work out if it’s just tiredness or something else)
  • Change in appetite – generally not eating as much
  • Hands diving for the backside, especially at night/nap time
  • New/unusual descriptions about their bottom
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Small, thin, white items (worms) in poo.

How can I tell for sure there’s worms if there’s none I can see in their poo?

  • After they have fallen asleep, grab a torch and take a look up close (I’m talking shining a torch right at the poo hole). If you see something white and wiggly, you’ve got your answer.
  • Not quite sure you saw something? Grab some sticky tape and place it gently over the anus – when you remove the tape if you see tiny flecks of white, that’s the eggs from the worms and you too can call yourself a winner!

I’ve seen them wiggling, aside from screaming, completely freaking out and scrubbing my hands and face raw, what do I do next!?!

  • Head to the pharmacy! More often than not, you’ll discover these wiggle worms at night so it’s a good idea to always have something to treat worms safely in your home first aid kit. Talk to your pharmacist about which product to choose
  • Follow the instructions carefully – treat the WHOLE family! If you’re breastfeeding or pregnant speak with the pharmacist or call Mothersafe (1800 647 848) before commencing treatment on yourself
  • Strip all the bed sheets, linen, clothing and wash wash wash with hot water!
  • Vacuum and wash the floors
  • Clean all the toys and surfaces they have touched
  • Showers not baths so you can wash away the eggs safely
  • No sharing food or drinks.
  • After you’ve recovered from washing the whole house I’m sure you’re wanting to know just how on earth did those worms get in there? There’s no way you want to go through it again if you can prevent it!
  • Keep nails short and clean
  • Wash hands well after the toilet, help children – they’re not so great at this!
  • Anyone who may have been in contact with the kids should also be treated too.

Threadworms are extremely contagious! Either direct contact with an infected person or, just touching the surface from someone who is infected can result in you or a child contracting threadworms. Hand hygiene will be the best way in the future to help prevent another episode of itchy bum. Be sure to replenish your chocolate squares once you’ve used them though – those wiggly worms sure love surprise visits!

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