Diagnosis

Your doctor can confirm the presence of pinworms by identifying the worms or eggs.

To help your doctor make a diagnosis, you can perform the tape test. As soon as the person you suspect has pinworms wakes up and before he or she uses the toilet, washes or gets dressed, press the adhesive side of a piece of transparent tape to the skin around the anus. The eggs stick to the tape.

For best results, perform the tape test three days in a row, and then take the pieces of tape to your doctor. Your doctor can look at the tape under a microscope to see if there are any pinworm eggs.

Treatment

To treat pinworm infection, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter pyrantel pamoate or prescribe medication to all members of your household to prevent infection and reinfection.

The most common prescription anti-parasite medications for pinworms are:

  • Mebendazole
  • Albendazole (Albenza)

You may have mild gastrointestinal side effects during the course of treatment, and you often need to take at least two doses to get rid of the pinworms completely.

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Preparing for your appointment

What you can do

When you call to make an appointment, ask about performing the tape test. The test involves pressing the adhesive side of a piece of transparent tape to the skin around the anus of the person you suspect has pinworms as soon as the person awakens. The eggs stick to the tape.

You then take the tape to your appointment so the doctor can look for pinworms or eggs under a microscope.

Preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time with your doctor. For pinworm infection, some basic questions to ask include:

  • If I don't have pinworm infection, what are other possible causes of my symptoms?
  • If one family member has pinworms, does the whole family need to be treated?
  • How do I rid my home of pinworms?
  • How do I prevent reinfection?

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask a number of questions during your appointment, including:

  • When did the itching start?
  • Does it occur mostly at night?
  • Is there anything that makes the symptoms better or worse?
  • Do other family members have similar symptoms?
  • Do you know if you or your child has had contact with someone who has pinworms?
  • Have you found any dead worms in pajamas, underwear or in the toilet?

What you can do in the meantime

If you have anal itching, try not to scratch.

June 04, 2022
  1. Parasites — enterobiasis (also known as pinworm infection). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/pinworm/. Accessed May 6, 2020.
  2. Leder K, et al. Enterobiasis (pinworm) and trichuriasis (whipworm). https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed May 6, 2020.
  3. AskMayoExpert. Pinworm (Enterobius vermicularis) infection. Mayo Clinic; 2020.

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