Whether you like it or not, up to 50% of children under 5 years of age will be affected by worms at some stage. We have broken it down to the bare basics that you should know about worms in kids.
- Although you can reduce the risk of your kids getting worms, you can’t avoid it completely
Many people are under the impression that you are only at risk of worms if you have pets. The truth is that worm eggs are in soil, which means that it’s everywhere.
Hookworms can enter the body through the skin when someone is walking barefoot.
Eggs can be ingested when you eat fruits or veggies that weren’t thoroughly washed, or simply if your own hands weren’t clean (which often is the case with little children).
If an infected person touches their anus (which often happens as it causes anal itching) they can spread eggs from under their nails to other surfaces like toys, utensils and shopping trolleys. Eggs can survive a few weeks outside a host.
In some cases, worm eggs can even be breathed in. So, you see that there really is no escape from your kid getting worms.
- You may have symptoms of worms or not
Sometimes, especially early after the infestation occurred, worms may cause no symptoms.
As time goes by the following symptoms of worms in kids may develop:
- Anal itching
- Vaginal itching
- Abdominal pain and discomfort
- Sleep disturbances
- Feeling irritable
- Weight loss – this as the worms are living of the food that your child is eating
- Nausea and vomiting
These symptoms are more common in children as their guts are smaller and the worms in kids have less space.
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- You can attempt to diagnose worms in children
You can do the ‘tape test’. Eggs and worms usually pass through the anus at night. Apply a piece of “scotch tape” or transparent adhesive tape to the little one’s anus at night before bedtime. Ideally, do this three consecutive nights in a row. You may see the eggs or worms on the see-through tape. You can take this to your doctor to examine under a microscope to determine whether worms are present.
Alternatively, your doctor can request a stool sample to confirm worms in your kid and identify which species are present.
- Worms are quick and easy to treat
The standard preventative deworming medication can be obtained at a pharmacy over the counter. Make a note to deworm the whole family every 6 months.
If your baby has an infection that is symptomatic a different dosage of the medication is needed, so you may want to see your doctor for a prescription. This may be repeated after a month if necessary. Because worms are so contagious it is a good idea to deworm the whole family if one member is affected.
- Here are the things that you can do to help prevent infection
- Wash hands regularly throughout the day
- Deworm your pets every 3-6 months and regularly clean their waste
- Keep your child’s nails clean and short and discourage nail-biting
- Avoid eating raw fish or meats
- Wash, dry and iron linen and clothes regularly (this as eggs can survive on fabric)
- Change underwear daily
- Avoid sharing towels