No-Panic Guide to Kids' Cooties

Pinworm

What is it?
Tiny parasitic worms that live in a child's intestines and lay their eggs in the area around the anus; kids catch it by ingesting the eggs after mouthing dirty fingers or toys.

What to look for
Restless sleep; intense itching around the rectum; if you check your child's rear end at night, you may see light-colored threads on the move as the worms lay their eggs.

What to do
See your doctor, who will prescribe an oral medication for the entire family; trim your child's nails to discourage scratching and thereby minimize the spread of pinworm eggs; ease irritation with warm baths.

How to prevent it
Encourage frequent hand washing, especially after using the toilet and before meals. Thoroughly wash exposed surfaces such as bedding, clothes, eating utensils, toilet seats, and bathroom fixtures.

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