How to Tell If You Have Worms and How to Get Rid of Them

(Last Updated On: August 3, 2018)

Usually it’s dogs, cats and rabbit owners who are fully aware of the risk of worms in their beloved pets becoming and therefore become used to their routine worming treatments. However, worms can affect human beings also causing problems which are not all that pleasant for those suffering! Just like the dreaded nits outbreak, suffering from an infestation of worms can be a nightmare for the whole family – however it is essential that they are treated and contained effectively.

It may be difficult or embarrassing to discuss with your GP or pharmacist, although believe us it is more common than you may think -definitely not something to be ashamed of!

The different worms that can infect humans are as follows

Threadworms

Threadworms are tiny tiny worms that are relatively common within the UK, especially in those under 10 years of age. Threadworms are passed on from infected people to another individual, with lack of hand-washing and hygiene increasing the likelihood they are to spread from one host to more. If one family member in a household becomes victim to the worms it is wise to treat everyone in the household for them also, in order to stop them hopping from one person to another and surviving.

Roundworms

Roundworm infections are much less common and occur due to eating contaminated foods, most likely when you are abroad. These worms can thrive inside a person, and may not result in any symptoms other than spotting them inside your stools. Roundworm infections tend to be very large in terms of the number of worms living inside the host.

Tapeworm

This type of infection is very rare within the UK and other more developed countries, becoming more of a risk when visiting or living in developing countries. These worms can grow up to a length of 9metres when inside the body, stemming from consuming contaminated foods or having contact with an infected person’s stools. Symptoms of these worms tend to be more serious including vomiting and diarrhea, as well as intense stomach pains/ cramps.

Hookworm

Whilst also less of a problem in developed countries, these worms are worth knowing about if you ever choose to travel or move abroad. These worms can get into the body by a person simply walking on contaminated grounds (usually soil) barefoot or by eating foods that have been subject to these worms, or handled by unwashed hands.

Schistosomes

These worms are small fluke worms which easily get into the bloodstream of people who come into contact with either infected soil or water. These types of worms are very common in children, and can cause the disease schistosomiasis.

Trichinella

These worms are usually found raw or undercooked meat which is infected. Treatment for these worms includes taking antiparasitic drugs.

Filaria

The filarial worms are actually responsible for a painful and disfiguring condition called lymphatic filariasis. These particular worms are spread from host to host via mosquitoes.

Whipworm

The whipworm is, as the name states, a whip-shaped worm which lives in the intestines of the host once infected. Spread of these worms is a result of a person coming into contact with an infected person’s stools or other bodily fluids.

NOT Ringworm

Ringworm may be a common result when searching for worms infecting human beings, however this condition is actually nothing to do with worms. Ringworm is a fungal infection which causes rashes which resemble worms on the skin, in the shape of a ring.

Although don’t worry too much, fortunately many of the worms listed above are considered rare due to being the result of poor hygiene and sanitation facilities. The worm you are most likely to suffer from in the USA, Australia and UK is the threadworm.

The symptoms of suffering from worms in humans.

Symptoms of worms depends largely upon the type of worm

Symptoms of worms depends largely upon the type of worm that is infecting you, however for the purpose of this list we have decided to focus on the symptoms of the threadworm due to it being the most likely culprit when we talk about worms in humans -especially in developed countries.

The good news is that although contracting threadworms is highly contagious, it isn’t particularly serious and can be common for many young individuals and then their families following an infection.

The typical symptoms of threadworms includes:

  • An itchy and/ or irritated anus
  • A change in or lack of appetite
  • Becoming irritable
  • Other changes in usual behaviour
  • Trouble with sleeping
  • Out of character bed-wetting
  • Redness and itching around the vagina
  • Skin infections caused by itching and bacteria entering the wounds around the anus area- wearing soft cotton gloves when sleeping may help to prevent this.

In rare cases these worms can spread to the urinary tract and liver, as well as the vagina and womb in females. Usually they are contained to the intestinal area however.

As unfortunate as it sounds, if you as a parent suspect your child is suffering from threadworms or believe you are yourself the best way to know for sure is to inspect the poo of the suspected host. When hiding in the poo these worms look like small pieces of white thread usually around the 1cm mark in length. If you cannot identify any worms within the stools itself due to your child being out of nappies, or you simply suffering from them yourself, you may need to check the anus area. Using a torch try to see if you can see any worms in the area to know for definite.

You should visit your local healthcare provider if you are pregnant and believe you are suffering from infection, or if your child has threadworms and is under 2 years of age. It is important to get the correct treatment and fast in either of these situations due to the potential harm and complications the worms may cause.

Symptoms of hookworm are as follows:

  • Colic, or cramping in infants
  • Abdominal pains
  • Nausea
  • Developing a fever
  • Blood in your stools
  • Itchy rashes
  • A loss of appetite

Symptoms of roundworms:

  • Irregular stools
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive weight loss
  • Abdominal pains and cramping
  • Visible worms in your stools

Symptoms of tapeworms:

  • Lethargy/ general feelings of weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Dehydration

Symptoms of hookworm:

  • Blood in your stools
  • A loss of appetite
  • Itchiness and rashes
  • Crying in infants
  • Intestinal cramps
  • A fever

Symptoms of whipworms:

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pains
  • Intestinal cramping
  • Painful defecation
  • Weight loss
  • Inability to control defecation

Symptoms of trichinella:

  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle pains
  • Weakness
  • Stomach pains
  • Inflammation of organs
  • Fever

Symptoms of filaria:

  • Elephantiasis
  • Rashes
  • Abdominal pains
  • Weakness

Symptoms of schistosomes:

  • Fever/ chills
  • Lymph node inflammation
  • Itchiness and rashes
  • Diarrhea
  • Intestinal pains

The treatment of worms within the human body.

The treatment of worms within the human body

As previously mentioned, we are focusing on threadworms for the purpose of this article due to these worms being the most common in terms of infecting individuals in places such as the UK, Australia and the USA. Therefore the treatment for worms described in this section of the article is solely for that of treating threadworms and may or may not be useful when trying to treat other forms of worm infections in humans.

Treating threadworms can be incredibly difficult due to it being highly contagious, and therefore when trying to eradicate the infection it is important to take a two-pronged approach in doing so. Firstly, the whole family will need to be treated with over-the-counter medication for threadworm -which is available in both liquid form and chewable tablets. It is important that the whole family takes this medication (one singular dose) in order to prevent the problem from arising again in the future.

A previously mentioned, if anyone in the household is under 2 years of age or is pregnant over-the-counter medications may not be suitable and is recommended to visit a doctor for further help, advice and treatments.

Secondly, it is important to disinfect the whole house efficiently and thoroughly until you are sure the infestation has ceased. This is called the hygiene approach and needs to be followed strictly for around 6 weeks (We know! It seems like forever…) by all members of the household. You will need to:

  • Wash all night clothes, bed linens, toys and towels once diagnosed.
  • Keep up this routine of regularly washing night clothes, bed linens, toys and towels at least once per week to destroy and worms or eggs that may be living on them.
  • Avoid shaking any materials that may be contaminated with eggs to prevent them from being transferred throughout the house.
  • Vacuum, dust and clean the whole house paying particular attention to the bedrooms and the bathrooms. Repeat this once per week, however for the first time do so very thoroughly and with a keen attention to detail.
  • Do not eat foods in the bedroom for the following six weeks to prevent consuming any eggs that may be shaken off the bed clothes or hiding in the room.
  • Wash your hand regularly, especially before eating and after visiting the bathroom.
  • Wipe down the kitchen surfaces each day with disinfectant and then wash the cloth used in hot water ready to be used again.
  • Keep fingernails short and well maintained.
  • Bathe or shower regularly, paying special attention to the anus and vaginal areas.
  • Do not share towels or flannels.
  • Do not share toothbrushes and keep each one stored separately in a cabinet.

As long as you are being treated and can remember to practise good hygiene, it isn’t necessary to keep children from school or take any time off from work. However, it may be wise to tell your child’s school that they are suffering from an infection in order to keep in line with their policies and allow them to ensure your child stays clean and washes their hands when necessary.

A follow up treatment of your initial medication may also be wise (although not necessary) for the whole household to take once again after around 2 to 4 weeks of the initial infestation. This is to minimise the risk of reinfestation and ensure that any eggs or immature worms that may have been previously missed in the treatment are definitely gone. Once the worm has been paralysed or killed it should easily pass through the digestive system and out through the stools.

After six weeks you can return to your normal routines, however it may be wise to keep drilling into your children (And yourself!) the importance of good hygiene as well as washing your hands regularly. By doing this you are preventing any future infections from occurring.

Final thoughts.

We hope that using this article you are now fully educated on how to care for any worm infections you may contract or instead how to spot them and realise you need treatment. We here at Balance Me Beautiful love hearing from our readers so please feel free to comment below your opinions on this article or perhaps you have a tried and tested treatment for worms and would love to share with our readers and the website.

Many young children suffer from worm infections and need the help and treatment each year to recover from them. Around 40% of under tens are actually victim to threadworm at any one time and therefore are a huge problem in young children and their families due to the ease of spreading throughout families. During an infestation, a threadworm can lay around 11,000 eggs in a child’s anus causing them to constantly scratch the area, become irritable and even cry. Keep an eye on your children in order to be aware of their symptoms and possible infection.

It is useful to know that threadworms can be transferred to anything that your child touches including beddings, pets, kitchen utensils, towels, furniture and food. Therefore act with care when trying to prevent the spread of the worms within your household, taking special notice to clean and disinfect everything regularly and encouraging perfect personal hygiene throughout the family.

We always value hearing from our beautiful readers thus if you have any questions regarding the website, this particular article topic or would just simply like to submit an upcoming idea for a future piece please send us an email via our Contact Page submission form.

As ever, thanks for reading guys and don’t forget to come back soon!

By Chess Taylor.

Written by Irina Radosevic MD
Irina graduated from the University of Belgrade, School of Medicine as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and spent over 3 years working in the Clinical Hospital Center Zvezdara, in the Department of Emergency Medicine. She also undertook a postgraduate in Cardiology from the same University and had previously worked for over a year as a Physician and Nutritionist Dietitian for the Fitness club Green Zone. She eventually left her chaotic but fulfilling job in the ER to pursue her passion of writing, travelling and mountain climbing which has included writing a first aid course for the alpine club of Belgrade. Irina currently works as a VA for PintMedia focusing on medical and travel writing. Feel free to connect with Irina on LinkedIn and FaceBook. Her CV can be seen here.