How to Check for Worms
The first step in diagnosing a worm infection is to look for the symptoms of worms such as scratching of the bottom, restless sleep and loss of appetite.
If you want to be more certain that you or your family have worms, you will need to do some checks. The following is a simple guide on how to check for worms (pinworms or threadworms in particular).
Worm Check 1 - Bowel Motions
Look for worms on the outside surface of bowel motions. They will be up to 1.5cm in length and resemble fine pieces of white cotton thread. This method is not always successful and even if you don't see any worms that doesn't mean you don't have them.
Worm Check 2 - Worm Observation
Once your child has been in bed for about an hour, use a torch and check for worms moving around the anus. The worms should be visible to the naked eye and may even glow under the torch light. You can also check for worms in the morning with this method.
Worm Check 3 - Look for Worm Eggs
This method is also known as the "sticky tape test". It is best to do this first thing in the morning as the worms lay their eggs during the night. You can use a torch and check for eggs on the skin around the anus, but the sticky tape test makes it easier. Simply press sticky tape against the skin and remove - if eggs are present they will appear as tiny white specks on the tape.
What do I do now?
If you have spotted worms or eggs in any of the above checks you should ensure that every member of your household takes a worm medication such as vermox tablets, deworm, or combantrin. These all contain mebendazole and will kill worms with a single dose.
Eggs are not killed by the medication so it is a good idea to take a follow up dose in 2 weeks time to kill any worms that have hatched since the first dose was taken.
If you didn't spot any worms during the checks it doesn't mean that there is no infection. If someone in your home has been exposed to an infected environment, it is a good idea to take the medication as a precaution.