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Many children get threadworms. They spread by producing large numbers of tiny eggs which cannot be seen with the eye. The eggs are present in dust and stick to food, carpets, towels, bedlinen and toilet seats.

Because they are so small and widespread they get on fingers and under finger nails and are easily swallowed. In the bowel they hatch into worms, which lay eggs around the bottom. You’ll see them in your child’s stools, looking like tiny white threads. Your child may have an itchy bottom and may scratch it a lot, especially at night.

If you think your child has worms, see your GP or health visitor, or ask your pharmacist for treatment. Everybody in the family has to be treated because the threadworm eggs spread very easily.

To prevent the infection spreading

  • Keep your child’s nails short.

  • Let your child wear pyjamas or pants in bed.
  • Bath your child or wash around the bottom each morning.
  • Keep your child’s towel separate.
  • Make sure everyone in the family washes their hands and scrubs their nails before every meal and after going to the toilet.

  • Disinfect the toilet seat, toilet handle or chain regularly. Vacuum and dust bedrooms thoroughly.

We are indebted to Health Promotion England for their help in compiling this section.