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I have been putting off writing this post for some time now. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if people wanted to know about, or if I even wanted to share, our families pinworm experience. This morning, a few mamas in a natural parenting group that I am involved in had a discussion on pinworms and natural pinworm remedies. I explained how our family treated and eliminated pinworms naturally and realized that it was time to share our families pinworm experience.
Yes, my daughter had pinworms. And yes, we treated and eliminated pinworms naturally!
Did you know that pinworms are more common than lice? I didn’t. I had never even heard of pinworms until a friend of mine told me about them last year. We had a brief converstaion where she filled me in on pinworms. I thought they sounded gross and was relieved that we did not have them. Fast forward a few months. My youngest child, Audrey, had been very cranky. She had been having trouble sleeping and her stomach seemed to cramp at night. I assumed that she was suffering from a stomach bug but was confused because her stomach did not bother her during the day, only at night. On day 3 I discovered that this was no stomach flu. Audrey was running around the house after her bath with no clothes on. That is when it happened. She had an accident in the middle of the living room. I grabbed a towel to clean it up. When I leaned down I stopped dead in my tracks. There I saw them. I instantly recalled the conversation I had with my friend and realized that I had come face to face with pinworms.
That night was horrible. Audrey screamed and cried complaining of itching while grabbing at her bottom. I gave her many warm baths and rubbed her down with coconut oil in an attempt to soothe her. She eventually fell asleep on me. I laid her down and headed to the computer to investigate those gross little critters that were terrorizing my baby’s body.
So, if you made it through that horrible story you may be (desperately) looking for answers just as I was. Well here we go, I hope that this will be helpful to you.
What are pinworms?
The pinworm, also known as threadworm or seatworm are the most common type of roundworm found in the USA. (you can read more over at Medical News Today).
“Pinworms are really small — about as long as a staple. Their eggs get inside the body through the mouth after you touch something which is contaminated with pinworm eggs, then touch your hands to your mouth.
After getting in your mouth, the eggs pass through the digestive system. The eggs hatch in the small intestine, and the baby worms grow and move on to the large intestine. There, the pinworms grab onto the wall of the intestine. After a few weeks, the female pinworms move to the end of the large intestine, and they come out of the body at night to lay their eggs around the anus.” via KidsHealth.org.
I thought that Audrey had a stomach flu because she was suffering from what I thought were stomach cramps at night. Those weren’t actually cramps, rather it was her body tensing in reaction to the intense itching and discomfort caused by the worms coming out of her body to lay eggs.
How do you get pinworms?
Pinworms are spread from person to person. The eggs of pinworms can live about 2 weeks. One person scratches their bottom and doesn’t wash their hands. They touch an object and leave the eggs there. Another person touches the object, now the eggs are on their hand. They touch their mouth and ingest the eggs, they are now infected with pinworms.
People who get pinworms are not dirty people. Unfortunately, people do not talk about their children having pinworms. I mentioned previously, they are more common than lice! I was shocked when I discovered that there was an outbreak of pinworms in my area. I was disappointed that people were not talking about it. It is taboo, I get that but come on! I eventually discovered where Audrey most likely picked up these critters, it would have been much easier for me to diagnose if I had known she was exposed. I notified everyone that we had been in contact with in the previous week and informed them that they had been exposed to pinworms. It was the responsible thing to do.
What are the symptoms of pinworms?
Pinworm symptoms include: itching around the anus, disturbed sleep, irritability, restlessness, appetite loss and difficulty sleeping. I have also read that people crave sugar when they have pinworms. However, some people never experience any symptoms!
Some parents investigating their child’s bottom at night with a flashlight to confirm an infestation. You can also take a piece of scotch tape and place it on the anus then remove it to look for eggs (I assume you would need a microscope for this). Or you can witness them in a bowel movement (as I did), although you don’t always see them.
How did I eliminate pinworms in our home?
I was able to eliminate pinworms in our home naturally. And I am happy to share with you how I did this but first I would like to say that I am not a doctor and that this is what worked for us. Please consult with your physician, pharmacist, or health care provider to discuss medical prevention, diagnosis, or treatment AND prior taking any home remedies or supplements or following any treatment suggested by anyone on this site. Only your health care provider, personal physician, or pharmacist can provide you with advice on what is safe and effective for your unique needs or diagnose your particular medical history. Nothing you read here should be relied upon to determine dietary changes, a medical diagnosis, or courses of treatment.
After a very restless night I watched the clock anxiously waiting for it to hit 11:00 so I could call my local herbalist. While I was waiting I called on my mother in law to help. She came to our home and took the kids outside to play. I cleaned.
I knew that these eggs could live on a surface for 2 weeks so I cleaned. I mean, I really cleaned. I rarely use bleach but I did for this occasion. I washed all of our bedding, towels, underwear, and family cloth in HOT water. I scrubbed potty’s, bathtubs, and floors. Our kids often run about half-dressed, or not dressed at all, therefore I felt the need to clean everything. Door knobs, light switches, dining room chairs, I scrubbed everything.
The clock struck 11:00 and I anxiously made my phone call. I was told that I needed to come in and get diatomaceous earth. I asked her to package some up for me and told her that I would be there soon. Before heading out I researched diatomaceous earth (DE) as I had only heard of using it topically not ingesting it. I researched and decided that I would treat my family with DE to eliminate pinworms in our home.
update: It has been two years and my family continues to eat DE in our smoothies due to it’s many health benefits, you can read about them here.
I treated our entire family with DE. The dosage that I used was 1 tbsp daily for adults and 1 tsp daily for the children. I added it to smoothies, applesauce, and even water. It does not dissolve so make sure you stir it up. It is also important to try not to inhale DE, as it can damage your lungs. I also placed DE in her diaper and sprinkled it in our bedding to eliminate any pinworms that may have escaped. I continued to treat everyone in our home for 90 days due to the fact that reinfection is very common. (I still include it in our diet due to the many other beneficial qualities, but that is another post!)
You can also help eliminate pinworms through diet. Pinworms like carbohydrates and sugars, they do not like garlic. I have read that pumpkin seeds are great to eat if you have pinworms!
I also made a topical treatment. I diced several garlic cloves and mixed them with a small amount of coconut oil in a small mason jar. It is important to store it in a warm place (the longer it sits the stronger it gets). I would rub this mixture onto Audrey’s anus (using a Q-Tip) before bedtime and first thing in the morning. Doing this repels the adults from laying more eggs and kills any eggs that are present.
Audrey started sleeping more comfortably on the first night. On the third night she showed no more symptoms.
The symptoms may be gone, but it is important to remember that you must continue treating for pinworms to avoid re-infestation. Eggs take up to two weeks to hatch so if there are eggs present in the body they will hatch (if they are not eliminated) and the cycle will start all over.
How did I prevent future pinworm outbreaks?
I continued giving all members of our family with DE orally (I even gave it to our dog until I realized that pinworms only live in humans) for 90 days.
For the first week I washed bedding and towels after one use. This was a lot of work and used a bunch of energy (I washed in hot then hung dry) but I felt it was necessary. It is important not to allow an infected person to shower or bathe with anyone else. Clean the bathtub after every use. No more babies running around without undies on. Wash hands, wash hands, and wash hands some more!
Pinworms suck, they really do. You have to be diligent when eliminating them from your home. Don’t give up, I am hoping that that comfort and peace find their way quickly to you and your loved ones!
You can read more about natural home remedies for pinworms over at HealthGuidance.org or NativeRemedies.com. If you or someone you know is suffering with pinworms I hope that this post helps you (you are NOT alone!). If you have other natural pinworm remedy please share them in the comments!
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DISCLAIMER: The statements made here have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure or prevent any disease. This notice is required by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.