The very thought of pinworms and threadworms in our family fills many of us with horror, And let’s be honest, shame. But worms are very common in kids and luckily it is actually pretty easy to get rid of pinworms and threadworms naturally without medication.
So in this post I am going to explain how to get rid of pinworms and threadworms naturally – been there and got the t-shirt!! – but I’m also going to share what I’ve learned the hard way about:
- recognising the symptoms of worms in children easily
- understanding what worms are & what causes them
- treating worms in children with and without medication
- & preventing your kids from getting worms repeatedly.
This last one is a biggie because as many families know some kids keep getting worms over and over after a first attack. A never ending cycle of pinworms or threadworms – and the horrible tell tale itching – can be incredibly distressing for kids and parents.
Hopefully, the practical tips I’ve got for you here, will show you very simply how to get rid of pinworms and threadworms naturally and prevent them from coming back repeatedly with some quick natural remedies for gut health that help boost children’s general wellbeing.
And when I say simply and quickly, I really mean it because so much of the advice out there on how to get rid of pinworms naturally is anything but simple and far from quick, which means the chances of us following it in our over busy lives is somewhere around zilch.
There is lots of useful information in this post – so do bookmark or save it for later and use the index to find specific answers – but it is all doable. There are – I promise – no weird & wonderful ingredients or crazy plans for disinfecting every inch of your home twice a week!!
I truly hope these practical, natural tips help you get rid of pinworms in your family and keep them at bay. Let me know how you get on.
BUT NOTE I am not a doctor and the information in this post does not provide qualified medical advice.
What Are Pinworms?
The first thing we need to understand about worms – before we get on to getting rid of worms naturally – is what they actually are.
Pinworms are tiny white worms that live and breed in human intestines. They are endemic to humans which means they are around us the whole time and young children are very likely to pick them up at some point. We are not total failures as parents if our kid gets worms.
We are often confused about worms as parents because we hear about pinworms and threadworms and tapeworms and really aren’t sure whether they are the same thing and which it is our child has.
Are Pinworms The Same As Threadworms?
Are Tapeworms The Same As Pinworms?
Pinworms and threadworms are not the same as tapeworms which can cause significant health problems. Tapeworms are uncommon in north America and the UK.
The key symptom of pinworms and threadworms in kids is an itchy anus at night. Common symptoms of tapeworm include nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain and fatigue. You should seek medical advice for tapeworm symptoms.
What Are Pinworms & Threadworms Caused By?
We are often – unhelpfully, I believe – told pinworms and threadworms are caused by “poor hygiene”. This can instantly send us into a blind panic as parents about the cleanliness of our homes.
Blind panic and frantic crazy cleaning of our whole home does not help us get rid of worms or make for happy parents or happy kids!!
Pinworms and threadworm infections are caused – most of the time – by worm eggs passing between children’s hands and into their mouth.
Regular hand washing, especially before eating, reduces the spread of worms but they are endemic so even the most unbelievably clean kids in the cleanest ever homes can get worms from other kids!!
From my experience, it is much more helpful to understand the life cycle of worms and then use very targeted hygiene measures to break the cycle. I’ll explain the life cycle of pinworms and threadworms here and then share my practical tips to break the cycle in the sections on:
- What To Do If A Child Has Worms
- & Why Does My Child Keep Getting Worms
The Life Cycle Of Pinworms & Threadworms
The life cycle of pinworms and threadworms is pretty simple :
- Worm eggs on a child’s hands get into their mouth.
- Worm eggs pass via the stomach into the child’s intestine.
- Eggs takes roughly a fortnight to hatch.
- Hatched worms takes one to two months to mature.
- Once mature, worms wriggle out of the child’s anus at night and lays eggs around the rim of the anus.
- The eggs make the anus itch horribly.
- Children scratch their bottoms to stop the itching and gets eggs on their fingers.
- If the microscopic eggs are not washed off the child’s hands they can get into their mouth – and other people’s hands – and the cycle starts again.
- Eggs can hatch on the child’s bottom and crawl back into the intestine.
It’s pretty nasty to think about. However, we can see it is a really simple life cycle so we can target all our hygiene efforts at key times to break it.
But first let’s look at the symptoms of worms in children.
What Are Symptoms Of Worms In Children?
The key tell tale symptom of worms in children is an itchy bottom at night.
The witching hours for worms laying eggs seem to be between 11pm and 2am. It can be earlier in the evening, but if our child wakes with an itchy bottom at this time of night there is a very high probability this is a symptom of worms.
There is load of advice out there on how to see the worms to confirm the symptoms. This advice includes everything from torches and sticky tape at the dead of night to – I kid you not – pooing on tinned foil!!
But you know what?
We don’t have to see a live worm wiggling in front of our own eyes before we start treating the symptoms of worms : if a child has an itchy bottom in the middle of the night it is pretty safe to assume it is worms and to treat the worms simply and naturally as there are no side effects to this.
I explain exactly what to do if your child has the symptoms of worms in the What To Do If A Child Has Worms section below.
The only difficulty with spotting the symptoms of worms in children easily is if our kids either:
- Do not fully wake up and realise they’ve got an itchy bottom
- Or if they are tiny and don’t have the language to tell us they have an itchy bottom.
In this situation, the symptoms of worms may show up in kids behaviour.
Symptoms Of Worms In Kids Behaviour
Constant itching from worm eggs during the night can cause children to have broken and restless sleep even if they do not fully wake up in distress.
Tiredness and irritability caused by poor sleep can therefore sometimes be the first symptoms of worms in your kids behaviour that you’ll spot.
Another symptom of worms in kids behaviour is renewed bed wetting in children who have been dry at night. It’s not quite clear what the connection is but there does seem to be one.
If our kids are obviously uncomfortable and restless during the evening or overnight, it can make sense to follow the steps for treating worms naturally without medication – whilst obviously keeping an eye out for other symptoms – as this can help quickly and simply break the worm life cycle without our kids taking repeated medication.
What To Do If A Child Has Worms
How To Relieve Itching From Worms
The simplest way to relieve itching from worms is to act quickly on the first sign of symptoms i.e. an itchy bottom at night.
If your child wakes, don’t worry about trying to spot the worms, just quickly and quietly with as little fuss as possible wash their bottom with very gentle soap and rinse thoroughly. This instantly removes the worm eggs which cause the itching and starts to break the lifecycle.
Give them clean pyjamas and underwear to put on underneath pyjamas; I’ll explain this further in Why Does My Child Keep Getting Worms. Please do not worry about stripping beds and changing towels at this hour!
If your child has been restless and you suspect worms but they didn’t wake, encourage them to go the toilet as soon as possible on waking and then wash or get them to wash their bottom gently but thoroughly.
As a precaution get everyone else in the family to wash their bottom well in the morning as this will remove any eggs laid on anyone during the night.
Again don’t worry about instantly laundering all sheets and towels or obsessively vacuuming – as too often recommended – the whole house. Eggs can be spread by bedding and furnishing but all that cleaning is a crazy amount of work for what is typically a tiny part of the problem.
Focus your efforts on bottom washing at night when itchy and first thing in the morning and treating worms naturally without medication.
Treating Worms Naturally
Medication – in the form of anthelmintic drugs – are available for the treatment of pinworms and threadworms. But it is possible to treat worms naturally and there is some concern drug treatment may contribute to children repeatedly getting worms.
Medication For Treating Worms
Some doctors and vets have suggested that over prescription of anthelmintic drugs for the treatment of worms in children and animals is causing the development of drug resistant worms.
Some researchers have also suggested that common worm medication undermines the ability of children’s gut bacteria to defend the gut against parasites and makes kids more vulnerable to digestive problems.
There is no conclusive evidence of these claims but there are anecdotal reports from parents of repeated worm infections after medication.
I am not a doctor and cannot give qualified medical advice but if you would like to know how to treat worms naturally this is what I do.
How To Treat Worms Naturally
To treat worms naturally we want to do a combination of the following:
- Paralyse worms so they can’t wriggle out to lay eggs
- Prevent worms from laying eggs
- Kill existing eggs
- Kill worms
- Expel worms and eggs from our intestines
- Pumpkin seeds : a small snack of pumpkin seeds can naturally paralyse worms so they can’t get out to lay eggs.
- Grated carrot : helps our intestines deep clean themselves to get rid of pinworms naturally. A regular little helping of grated carrot and apple cider vinegar is great for restoring gut health generally – and curiously treating period pain – and keeps worms from taking hold.
- Flaxseed : flaxseed is another traditional ingredient that helps our digestive system clean itself out thoroughly but gently to get rid of worms and other nasties whilst nourishing the good gut bacteria. You can add a little flaxseed regularly to cereal and to baking.
- Coconut oil : a teaspoon of coconut oil neat or added to a smoothie helps get rid of worms naturally from our digestive system. A little coconut oil rubbed around the anus can help prevent worms laying eggs and worms reentering the body.
- Pineapple : pineapple is one of the few plants containing bromelain a natural antihistamine which can help to kill worms naturally.
- Papaya : papaya contains the enzyme papain which is also believed to help kill parasitic worms naturally. You may be able to pick up cans of pineapple and papaya together to keep in stock in your pantry.
- Garlic : garlic is believed to kills eggs and to prevent worms laying eggs. Some people mix diced garlic with coconut oil and apply topically around the anus to eliminate pinworms naturally. I have never had to resort to this but a garlic rich diet seems to help get rid of pinworms naturally and prevent them recurring. Simply fry diced garlic for a minute and add to a cup of stock for a quick natural pinworm treatment.
- Ginger : ginger is a natural antibiotic that is useful in all sorts of natural remedies for gut health including bladder infections. It’s traditionally believed to get rid of threadworms naturally in our stomach before they have a chance to get into the intestine. A simple smoothie of tinned pineapple and or papaya with a little ginger and grated carrot plus a teaspoon of coconut oil and sugar free natural yoghurt is a simple natural treatment for pinworms and threadworms.
- Apple Cider Vinegar : a little apple cider vinegar can help restore gut health generally and help our stomach defend our digestive system naturally against pinworms. It is believed apple cider vinegar can help to prevent any ingested eggs from hatching.
- Onions : sulfur rich onions also seem to boost our stomach’s defences against worms – and other parasites & infections – so cook with them plentifully and dose up with a side of fried onions or a big bowl of onion soup whenever someone has the symptoms of worms.
- Oregano : oregano has been used traditionally to protect against worms. A gentle cup of oregano tea with honey may help to get rid of worms and including it in meals can protect against repeated infections.
The two key things to remember about these natural treatments for pinworms and threadworms are to:
- Combine as many as you can for optimal impact
- Make them part of your week in, week out family diet as they will then help to provide continual prevention against worms.
I have come to believe ongoing natural treatment and prevention is absolutely key because worms are so endemic amongst young children and our kids can pick them up any time. Knocking worms on the head once doesn’t help if our kids just pick them up again from another kid next week.
So, even if you choose to take prescribed medication for worms, I would still recommend building these natural treatments for worms into your diet. They are all easily available, pantry staples that are great natural remedies for gut health and digestive problems of all sorts.
There are a couple of other natural ways to treat pinworms and threadworms that I don’t actually use but I will take you through here.
Other Natural Treatments For Pinworms & Threadworms
If you have a root around on Google or Pinterest you will find details of these other natural treatments for pinworms and threadworms. They may be effective but they are either pretty obscure or not something you can take as a family easily and comfortably to get rid of worms naturally so in my mind are less useful but you may want to try them:
- Papaya seeds : research suggests dried papaya seeds can get rid of worms effectively. Unfortunately, they’re not easily available or something you’re likely to have in stock.
- Diatomaceous earth : I do use diatomaceous earth to get rid of ants naturally and to get rid of slugs & snails naturally and with my chickens but I’m a bit of a wimp and not comfortable using it with my family. If you do want to give it a go there is a very helpful post here on how to use diatomaceous earth as a parasite cleanse for humans.
- Cloves : simple clove tea can help get rid of worms and is also a useful natural headache relief but in my experience kids – & many adults – won’t drink it.
- White willow bark : you can buy white willow bark which has traditionally been used to treat worms in specialist health stores but it’s not an easily available natural treatment you can build into your diet.
- Wormwood : the clue is in the name and wormwood has been used for centuries to help get rid of worms naturally but again this is not a common pantry ingredient you can include regularly in your diet and there can be side effects that require it to be taken with caution.
The biggest problem with these more obscure ways to get rid of pinworms and threadworms naturally is that you can’t take them easily on a regular basis to prevent worms taking hold. This is key, because as so many of us parents learn the hard way kids can keep getting worms.
Why Does My Child Keep Getting Worms?
It is incredibly distressing for kids who keep getting worms over and over again. And pretty horrible for us parents too. Inevitably we feel guilty.
But repeated worm infections are common and both medication and crazy hygiene measures can it seems actually be part of the problem.
Both take a sledge hammer to crack the nut which is fine once in a while but we can’t keep using them week in, week out and young kids are actually exposed to worms the whole time.
So we need to break the cycle of repeated infections with these simple sustainable steps that tweak our hygiene habits & our kids diet.
Simple Hygiene Habits To Stop Kids From Keep Getting Worms
Even if we hot launder all our sheets and towels and pyjamas and scrub our house top to bottom twice a week, our kids can get worms from other kids.
The simple, most effective hygiene habits for stopping worm infections are:
- Wear underpants in bed
- Wash bottoms first thing
- Thorough hand washing at school
Wear Underpants In Bed
Wearing close fitting underpants in bed protects pyjamas and bed clothes from most worm eggs. As underpants are only worn once anyway & laundered you don’t have to do any extra laundry to keep on top of them.
If your child wakes with an itchy bottom – or if you do – wash bottoms and put on clean underpants and quickly rinse those taken off.
Wash Bottoms First Thing
Most kids have a bath before bed. But worms come out and lay eggs at night so it is absolutely essential everyone washes their bottom in the morning.
This only takes a few minutes under the shower, the bath tap or a bidet but it will get rid of worm eggs naturally day in, day out and break the cycle which causes kids to keep getting worms.
Thorough Hand Washing At School
Washing hands thoroughly after the toilet and before meals is a no brainer for reducing the spread of worms but don’t assume it happens at school.
My super sleuth investigations suggests kids scoot off to lunch at high speed without washing their hands first. Be a pain and check if your kids school actually makes sure every single child washes hands before every meal. And nag your own kids. They hate it but it beats worms any day!!
These habits might sound too simple to make a difference but they provide sustainable year round worm protection you can stick to.
A few simple changes to kids diets give extra protection.
Simple Diet Changes To Stop Kids From Keep Getting Worms
Our bodies do have natural mechanisms to protect against worm infections. These simple diet changes can restore gut health to strengthen protection:
- Include plenty of natural worm treatments in your everyday diet
- Eat plenty of foods that restore gut health
- Cut down on sugar as much as you can
- Eat plenty of fibre to avoid constipation
I know this kind of advice sounds airy fairy but here are four practical ways to build natural worm treatments & gut restoring food into your kids diet that are sugar free and will help prevent constipation.
Pineapple & Papaya Smoothie
This quick smoothie is super rich in natural worm treatments. Enjoy it once a week to help keep worms at bay. Simply combine in a large blender jug:
- A can of pineapple & papaya (use half in a small jug)
- Half a small finely grated carrot
- Teaspoon of coconut oil
- Thumbnail knob of sliced ginger or a teaspoon of dried ginger
- Teaspoon or so of flax seed
- 2 or 3 spoons of natural, sugar free yoghurt
- Ice cubes or frozen banana pieces (I freeze most of my bananas in pieces as this helps to prevent fruit flies).
- Enough water to blend
Onion & Garlic Base
Getting kids to eat plenty of onions and garlic – day in, day out – can help to stop kids from keep getting worms but lots of picky eaters aren’t keen.
If you cook up a good batch – 4 or 5 onions worth plus a small head of garlic – and blend it smooth enough for even the pickiest of eaters you can then freeze it in ice cube trays and quickly add to their meals every day.
Grated Carrot Baking
If your kids will eat it, a little side of grated carrot with apple cider vinegar every day or so is an easy way to help kids from keep getting worms.
But if your kids won’t go near raw carrot, remember you can bake with grated carrot. Check out some of these intestine cleaning carrot recipes that are low on sugar and help prevent constipation:
Flax & Pumpkin Seed Energy Bars
Simply snacking on pumpkin seeds or chucking them and some flaxseed on cereal is a super easy way to build natural worm treatments into your diet.
But if you want to cut down on sugary snacks and biscuits you could also make these energy bars which include both pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds.
And there you. Absolutely, everything you need know to know about how to get rid of pinworms and threadworms naturally and critically how to stop kids from keep getting worms. If you find these tips helpful please do share.