What to Do if Your Children Have Intestinal Parasites

Intestinal parasites often cause annoying symptoms, such as discomfort when sleeping and itching in the area near the anus. We'll tell you how to deal with this problem, which can also affect the entire household.
What to Do if Your Children Have Intestinal Parasites
Maricela Jiménez López

Reviewed and approved by the doctor Maricela Jiménez López.

Last update: 26 May, 2022

Worms are intestinal parasites that affect a considerable number of children around the world. The most frequent intestinal parasites in the environment are pinworms. Do you want to know more? Keep reading everything we’re going to tell you below and, of course, what to do if your child has worms.

Children can develop these parasites at any stage. However, the majority of cases are found in children under the age of 15, as indicated in a study published in the Revista Chilena de Cirugía.

If you notice that your child is restless at night and uncomfortable, pay attention, because these are common symptoms in these cases, according to a Mayo Clinic publication.

The same source details that pinworms are acquired when the eggs of the worms, microscopic in size, which are found on people’s hands -especially on their fingernails- or on objects they may have touched, are unintentionally ingested.

What to do when children have parasites

The key to knowing if a child or family member has intestinal parasites is to examine the area near the anus. This can be done, for example, by placing some adhesive tape on this part of their body immediately after waking up.

After removal, the tape should be taken to the doctor for examination. If this test is done for two or more days, the better, as the probability of detecting the eggs under the microscope will be greater.

1. Take them to the doctor

To find out what to do if your child has parasites, you must first go to the doctor. It’s not true that parasites hard to eliminate – in fact, this problem is much more common than it might seem.

You must take the necessary steps and follow the treatment to the letter, however, to prevent it from reappearing. Furthermore, the health professional will know how to evaluate each case and will explain the preventive actions you can take.

A doctor checking a baby for intestinal parasites.

Your pediatrician may prescribe an oral medication. No medication will eliminate the eggs that can re-infect your child, however. For that, you’ll need to repeat the dosage two weeks later.

2. Pay attention to what they eat

One myth about parasites has to do with the consumption of sweets. You’ve probably heard that you can tell a child has parasites because they crave sweet foods suddenly. This is totally false.

It’s a good idea to keep an eye on what they eat, however. Eating sweets might not indicate the presence of parasites but it’s also not great for their health. In fact, a medical article argues that controls on what they eat should be “strict” during childhood.

A baby making a mess while eating.

Fortunately, as a Manual MSD publication indicates, it’s possible to take preventive actions to avoid these problems. When you wash food for your child to eat, be sure you use germ-free and bacteria-free water sources.

Sand in parks, play areas, swimming pools, toilet seats, toys, and hands and fingernails are the main places where you can find parasites.  That’s why it’s crucial to teach your child good hygiene habits.

3. Pay attention to the quality of their sleep

Parasite eggs enter through the mouth and reach the digestive system, hatching in the small intestine. The larvae of parasites advance until they go into the large intestine.

A few weeks later, female worms reach the end of the digestive system and leave the body to lay more eggs. This process typically occurs at night.

A child having a good night's sleep because they don't have intestinal parasites.

This causes restless dreams, irritability, nightmares, tooth grinding, and even sleepwalking. That’s why you should pay attention to how well your child is sleeping.

If you notice any of these symptoms, check your child’s genitals and especially the rectum. You can also check their stool where you may observe the parasites in the form of small, white threads.

Advice for a family with intestinal parasites

When a child has worms, odds are the whole family does, too. For this reason, according to the sources cited above, these tips can be very helpful for the prevention or treatment of this problem in other members of the household: 

  • All family members should bathe in the morning: this will help eliminate a large number of eggs
  • Change their underwear and bed sheets often: this will reduce contamination and the risk of re-infection
  • Keep nails short and wash them with a brush
  • Everyone in the family should wash their hands often, especially after visits to the bathroom and before handling any food

Of course, all these measures must be accompanied by the pertinent medical consultation and by the treatment with medications recommended by a professional.

It’s easy to control intestinal parasites if your children have it

If you don’t correctly treat this condition or you don’t go to the doctor, the infection can also recur at any time. However, don’t worry: the medical sources cited in this article state that major complications are rare.

Not only children get parasites, too. Once they’re infected, it’s likely that the whole household will get parasites. This is, fortunately, a quick and simple matter to deal with.

Once the infection is gone, always practice good home hygiene. This will help you not only avoid getting parasites, but also other diseases that can affect the whole family.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.