Pinworms: How Do I Get Rid of Them?

Updated on November 28, 2018
R Swafford profile image

I decided to write this article after my six-month battle with pinworms. These are the remedies that worked for me.

Whether you have never heard of them or are currently battling them, pinworms (also known as threadworms) are an extremely contagious parasite that can make your daily life miserable. According to the CDC website, pinworms are the most common parasite in the United States, surpassing head lice in their prevalence.

I decided to write this article after my own experience with pinworms, and the long battle of researching and experimenting to figuring out which remedies actually work to get rid of them. I will walk you through what pinworms are, how they are spread, how to get rid of them, and how to prevent them from coming back. If you are currently in a battle against pinworms, then the results of my trial and error will save you tons of time and frustration.

What are Pinworms?

Pinworms are a small white worm (about the size of a staple) that set up camp in your small intestine before starting their reproductive cycle inside your body. They are visible to the human eye, but their eggs require the use of a microscope to be seen. The eggs can spread to you from direct contact with others, campsites and other outdoor areas, preschools (and places where many children are), the gym, your workplace, public restrooms, and just about anywhere people go.

How Does Infection Happen?

Infection often happens when you touch an object that was previously touched by someone with pinworm eggs under their nails, and then you somehow ingest those eggs. You can also get pinworms directly from outdoor areas, eating contaminated food, or even from inhaling eggs in the air. The possibilities of infection are terrifyingly endless: The eggs can survive 2-3 weeks without a host (you), so they can be found on bedsheets, couches, clothes, bathtubs, door handles, carpets, blankets, you name it. All it takes is for you to touch that area then put your hand to your mouth, and you are infected.

What I ran into frequently during my research is that children are highly likely to carry pinworms, since anal itching causes them to scratch the area (even in their sleep), and then spread them to others from their hands. However, it is important to note that children are not the only source of the parasite, as exemplified above. In my case, I believe I caught the infection from a trip to a foreign country.

So how do they multiply? The eggs take around one month after infection to hatch and reproduce inside your body. At this point, the female worms move to the anus area and lay around 10,000 eggs in the region, which usually occurs at night. One common symptom of pinworms is anal itching, and this is because the sticky coating that surrounds the eggs is a skin irritant.

For a few months of trying to get rid of the parasite, I did not know that infection can reoccur directly from the anus. This means if your underwear or bathing suit get pinworms on them (whether it be from your own body or from the environment) and you wear the garment, the worms can crawl back up into your intestine from the anus. Aside from this being unbearably disgusting, it also means that reinfecting yourself while trying to get rid of them is common-- unless you follow strict cleaning procedures (which I will cover later).

Cycle of Enterobius Vermicularis (Pinworm)
Cycle of Enterobius Vermicularis (Pinworm) | Source

What are Common Symptoms?

  • Anal itching
  • Difficulty sleeping (due to itching)
  • Infection of female genital tract (yes, they can infect your vagina)
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Abdominal pain
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Extreme hunger
  • Sugar cravings
  • Malabsorption of nutrients
  • Weight loss

These are symptoms that I have researched as well as experienced. My worst symptoms were being irritable, extremely hungry and completely exhausted all the time. The parasite changed the way I thought and felt, turning me into a cranky and negative person, and made it difficult to stay awake during work (I would often feel like I could fall asleep standing up). I thought I was going crazy until I realized I had pinworms when I saw many white worm lines in my stool.

What Can I Take to Get Rid of Pinworms?

With a persistent routine and strict cleaning (I'll get to that, I promise), you can and you will get rid of pinworms. First and foremost, it is important that you check with your doctor before independently treating yourself for pinworms. In my experience, I decided to handle the situation with over-the-counter and natural remedies because the medicine my doctor prescribed me (mebendazole) was $700 with my insurance, due to a recent price hike (see link at bottom of article for more info on this). However, your medical coverage may be different, and a prescribed medicine might be the easier solution for you (which is why going to the doctor should be your first step).

Anyone who lives with you or who comes into contact with you frequently should also be treated, or they could reinfect you and themselves indefinitely. It may be embarrassing to talk about (especially if your child is infected and you need to notify other parents), but it is important to tell people before an outbreak occurs.

Important Note

For any medicine you take, whether a natural remedy, prescription or over-the-counter drug, always read the labels carefully and make sure you know any side effects, drug interactions, and the proper dosage. What is safe for me to take may be dangerous for you! Some of my suggestions are not safe for pregnant/ nursing women.

The Remedies I Used

1. After going to the doctor and realizing I couldn't afford the prescription pinworm medicine, I started looking for over-the-counter solutions. The first medicine I tried was Reese's Pinworm Medicine, also known as Pyrantel, which was about $12 at Walgreens (pictured below). It is a liquid suspension that they tried really hard to flavor like bananas (to no avail). It is meant to be taken once, and then two weeks later if needed. This medicine is hard on your liver, and can make you sick if you take too much (the dosage is by body weight). I took a slightly higher dose than my body weight, and vomited for about 2 hours that night, so learn from my mistake.

The issue with Reese's is that it only kills the worms. It works by paralyzing them, and then your body gets rid of them in the stool. This is problematic because even with taking the second dose two weeks later, there is a high chance that there are still unhatched eggs inside your intestine. Also, even if the worms are paralyzed, if there is a pregnant worm that isn't removed in the stool right away, the eggs can still hatch and break out of the female worm. I probably took about five doses of Reese's over a few months of time, and the pinworms did go away, but they kept coming back a few days later.

2. I started taking an extract mixture of green black walnut extract, wormwood herb, and clove buds by NOW herbal supplements. Black walnut extract is known to kill the worms as well as the eggs, unlike Pyrantel. You take this twice daily mixed with a glass of water (it must be diluted or it is considered poisonous), before you eat. It is extremely bitter with a sort of wooden taste. The bottle says to take for two weeks, but I took it for about a month. Once I started using this, my symptoms started going away. I am in no way trying to advocate this specific brand, but simply sharing for you what worked for me; there are also capsules of black walnut extract/cloves/wormwood that you can take in pill form if you don't want the bitter taste of the extract (my boyfriend took these).

3. Garlic, Garlic, Garlic! Eating raw garlic is known to kill both the worms and the eggs, so I skeptically started eating a large raw clove of garlic in the morning and one at night for a couple of weeks (in addition to the extract), and my itchy anal symptoms completely disappeared! My energy reappeared and I felt like I was taking my life back from my invisible egg enemies. Garlic can burn your tongue, but the way I ate it was to drink water with every bite. They also have garlic capsules, but I strongly suggest you take fresh, uncooked garlic for it to be most effective. I also minced it up and mixed it with my morning eggs for a more bearable method.

4. To prevent reinfecting myself during sleep, I made a mixture of virgin coconut oil and minced garlic, and applied this to the anus and outer vaginal area every morning and night after showering. I stored it in a small glass container, unrefrigerated; the longer it sits, the more potent it becomes. This helps to prevent worms from laying eggs in the anal area. Be extremely careful to wash your hands and never put a contaminated finger into the mixture before applying to your skin. Depending on how fresh the garlic is, you may feel a burning sensation. For me, the burning was more welcome than the itching.

5. I added apple cider vinegar to a bag of wet wipes, and used them after every restroom visit. Vinegar is known to create a highly acidic environment in which pinworms cannot live. Most websites say to take it orally, but I figured adding it to wipes would help prevent reinfection.

Cleaning and Preventing Reinfection

There are many steps you can take to prevent reinfection, and cleaning should be done as often as possible for at least a month from the date you start taking medicine. It will be tiring and a lot of work but do not give up, even after your symptoms disappear; I got rid of pinworms once and they came back again because I stopped cleaning. Here are some tips for cleaning and preventing the eggs from reinfecting you:

  1. Wash your hands frequently, and be aware of biting your nails or eating food with your hands.
  2. Never shake dirty clothes or lay them on the floor. Put them directly into the washer or a sealed bag until you can wash them. Wash everything in hot water.
  3. Wash all pillows, comforters, sheets, blankets, and clean all couches and chairs. It is important to wash your sheets at least once a week.
  4. Unfortunately Lysol and other disinfectants will not kill pinworms, but vacuuming daily will minimize the liklihood of eggs spreading in your home.
  5. Treat everyone in your household at the same time, even if they don't have any symptoms.
  6. Change air filter for air conditioner.
  7. Wipe down all door knobs, locks, and switches.
  8. Wipe down kitchen and bathroom counter surfaces frequently.
  9. Shower twice daily if possible (once in the morning and once at night). If not possible, then use wet wipes after every restroom use.
  10. Throw away all bath loofahs or reusable bath scrubbies, change washcloths daily, and change towels at least every 2 days.

A Quick Summary

Stay clean. Wash your hands often, and be aware of touching your hands to your mouth.

Do your research. You know your body, and you know what medications you take/complications you have. Before taking anything, make sure you know it is safe for you.

Inform others. If you don't tell others around you (or around your children, if they are infected) that you have pinworms, then they could likely spread it back to you, starting the nightmare all over again. It is important to overcome the embarrassment and recognize the importance of informing those who might be infected from you.

Be persistent. It may seem like a waste of time or money to follow these steps (lots of laundry, showering, cleaning and buying/taking supplements), but it will be much less of a hassle than being reinfected and having to start all over again. Keep at it and you will soon break free of this horrible parasite!

Further Reading

Have you ever had pinworms? If so, how long did you have them for?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

  • What kills the pinworm eggs that might be on toilets, door knobs, and light switches?

    When I cleaned, I just used antibacterial wipes. It doesn't kill them, but if you wipe them down frequently then you'll get rid of them. Just make sure to be careful not to shake the wipes (and wash your hands before touching anything else).

  • I had pinworms while I was pregnant, and you obviously can't drink medication for pinworms while pregnant. It's been nine months now. Can I still treat them?

    If you are no longer pregnant, I would check with your doctor before taking the medication. It is never too late to treat them, but I would suggest that you keep a strict cleaning routine if you've had them for that long. They are probably all over your living spaces.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Jeffrey T Moss 

      8 months ago

      Enjoyed the article,however the last thing I would do is go to a medical doctor.Taking poison to treat parasites is a bad idea,and that's all you'll get from an m.d.Parasite infection is the most under diagnosed ailment in western medicine.

      Herbs are the only solution along with a proper diet and cleanliness.But no matter how clean you are you will get reinfected,they're in the air,soil,food and water.Keeping your blood system clean through good diet and herbs is the only way to keep them at bay.

      Oh,you've been to a foreign land,you have pets,children,been in jail ,nursing home even hospital...you got em!

      And why just pin worms?They're easy to diagnose,itchy but,however there's a long list of parasites and to believe you just have one type is ,hmmmm,silly!

      Definitely don't waste your time checking for parasites or what type of parasite you might have.Know that chances are YOU GOT EM!

      Look at the list of symptoms they create and start checking them off,yes you have them.

      Want a little more insight into parasites watch the YouTube video,Parasites within every human body.

      I became aware of parasites living in costa Rica about 10 years ago.First thing I realised was that I have been symptomatic,infected,since childhood!My entire life I had parasites!

      Took me several years of dealing with them before I realised how greatly compromised my life was due to that chronic infection.

      Parasites control human behaviour.From alcholism,food disorders,aggression,violence,vulgar sexual behaviour,uncleanliness,the list goes on.

      Do yourself a favor and treat what's really eating at you.And do not go to your doctor!They're useless when it comes to parasites.

      Doctors prefer to treat the symptoms then the cause,it's good business.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, remedygrove.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://remedygrove.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)