How Often to Wash Sheets with Pinworms?

  • Pinworm infection is quite common, especially in school children and, as a consequence, their family members. These worms spread from person to person easily and make everyone infected in a blink of an eye.
  • Putting fingernails to the mouth and forgetting to clean hands is enough to cause the pinworm infection, make it thrive, and put our child and our health in danger.
  • These worms can survive a lot even if they’re treated aggressively by our doctors. They can cause a lot of trouble and inconvenience to our infected children, especially at night. 3 weeks is the shortest time to get rid of pinworm infections. 
  • The linen we use must be treated with hot water and a washing machine every day to get our health back. 

Pinworms: definition and treatment

Here’s what you need to know, for starters, about these parasites:

How do pinworms look like?

Can you see them?

Pinworms are visible. 

They range in size from 2-13 mm (one-quarter to one-half inch; the size of a staple) and resemble a worm.

Pinworms are:

  • small, 
  • thin, 
  • pin-shaped
  • white;

Where do they live? 

Pinworms live in the digestive tract, colon, rectum, and anus. They can also infect vaginas. 

A pinworm infection is an intestinal illness.

Females lay pinworm eggs when a person sleeps. First, they leave the intestine through the anus. Then, they deposit their eggs on the surrounding skin around the anus.

The pinworms infection spread quickly to people who touch their anal area and forget that their hands and fingernail need to be washed every time.  

About 20-40% of American children carry pinworms (also called threadworms, or Enterobius vermicularis).

Why children?

It’s easy: toddlers are known for having little to no hygiene, and it’s not much of their fault. It’s just a stage in life, and we have to deal with it. Also, the school environment is a place where kids play together, use the same toilet, and clean their hands as little as possible. 

A child who is a:

  • nail biter, or 
  • thumb sucker

is more than likely to have pinworms.

Typical symptoms could include:

  • restless sleep,
  • anal itching (especially at night),
  • feeling irritable,
  • abdominal pain that comes and goes;

Talk to your doctor if you notice some of these symptoms.

Tip: Good medical advice? Ask your doctor about the tape test. It comprises taking a clear piece of tape and pressing the sticky side to the skin around your child’s anus. Do this in the morning, when your child wakes up (even before using the toilet, bathing, or putting clothes on). The pinworm eggs will stick to the tape. Repeat this test with your child 3 days in a row. Then take all the pieces of tape to your doctor. Checking under a microscope will reveal if there are signs of pinworms around the anus of your child.

Pinworms are not a rarity. They’re ubiquitous in communities. 

What causes a pinworm infection?

You can get these worms by accidentally:

  • swallowing (eating or drinking something that’s contaminated with them), or 
  • breathing in 

pinworm eggs. 

The eggs can also live on surfaces like:

  • clothing, 
  • bedding, or 
  • other objects; 

If you touch one of them and don’t clean your hands with the soap, fingernails put in your mouth make you swallow these affected eggs.

What happens after?

After about a month, the eggs hatch in your intestines and grow into adult worms. 

As soon as they have their house inside an organism, females start to lay their eggs around the anus of the affected person. This causes itching around the anus. 

Scratching this area causes eggs to cling to your fingers and get under your fingernails. 

By touching other surfaces, you spread the worms, and the infection circle repeats.

Learn how to deal with this issue in the paragraphs below. 

How to get rid of pinworms?

While typically we should wash our linen once a week, the presence of pinworms makes it necessary to wash them more often. 

Before we get to the medical treatment part, let’s get some advice on how to get rid of pinworm infection.

The best prevention? Strict hygiene.

1. Pinworm eggs can survive on hard surfaces and in clothes and bedding for 2 to 3 weeks. Consider regular household cleaning.

2. We know pinworms lay their eggs at night. So remember about washing hands and an anal area in the morning to reduce their number on your body. 

3. Wash your hands often and avoid biting nails.

4. It’s a good idea not to bathe with anyone or share towels during treatment. Continue doing it for 2 week period after the final treatment.

5. Avoid scratching your anal area even if it’s itching. 

6. Trimming your child’s nails could lead to less space for eggs to collect.

7. Wash linen, nightclothes, pajamas, underwear, washcloths, etc., in hot water to kill pinworm eggs. 

Tip: Dry bed linen, nightclothes, underwear, pajamas, washcloths, and towels on high heat.

8. Taking a shower is better than a bath since it prevents possible recontamination in water.

9. Wash your hands with soap and hot water after using the toilet, changing diapers, and before handling food. Try to model the same customs in your child’s behavior. 

10. Also, don’t shake things that may have eggs on them, such as clothing, underwear, pajamas, bed linen, or towels.

If you don’t feel like visiting a medical doctor, you consider an in-house treatment without a prescription.

These worms can be treated entirely with two doses of over-the-counter medicine called pyrantel pamoate, 

Important: This medicine is available in the US under the brand names Pin-X and Reese’s Pinworm Medicine.  

Take one dose of this medicine immediately and the second dose 2 weeks later.  

When should you see a doctor immediately? 

If you have persistent symptoms such as:

  • anal pain, 
  • reduced appetite,
  • abdominal pain, 
  • blood in stool, or 
  • rectal bleeding);

Washing bedding―how often?

Your sheets, even without pinworms, already contain:

  • dirt
  • dead skin cells
  • body oils
  • sweat
  • dust mites, including their carcasses and fecal matter;

Most people should wash their bed linen once per week. 

If you don’t use your mattress every day, you could stretch this time to once every two weeks.

Yet, if you have pinworms, you should use a washing machine to clean your linen in hot water every day!

Change your underwear and bed linens each day to remove pinworm eggs.

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Frequently Asked Questions

The unfortunate thing with pinworms is that they spread quickly through people who live in the same place, eat together, use the same towels, bedding, etc. Even your pets can get them! Therefore, the whole family must be treated to ensure the health of every member. Financially, it’s quite a pain to buy medicine for the entire house hold. Yet, the entire family will avoid the unpleasant infection.
The pinworm eggs are small and transparent, and we can see them only with a microscope.
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