Threadworms are tiny, white, thread like worms often found in the anus, as this is where the female lays her eggs. They can live anywhere in the digestive tract, and in girls can migrate to the vagina causing itching and redness. They are around 1cm long and as wide as a piece of sewing thread.
The symptoms of threadworms vary but the most common alert is itching the anus especially just after they’ve gone to bed. Other symptoms may include worms in the stools, a colicky pain, loss of weight, constipation, diarrhoea, bad breath, dark circles under the eyes, poor sleep, tiredness, frequent infections, loss of appetite and nausea. There may also be lethargy, inability to concentrate, headaches and irritability. At night there may be restlessness in bed, disturbed dreams and teeth grinding. Other more obscure signs are an itchy nose, a powdery patch on the cheek which looks like eczema and a dark spot which appears on the white of the eye. If they are left untreated they can affect the whole constitution causing listlessness, slimy stools and a poor appetite.
The way they spread is that adult worms lay eggs around the anus which causes itching. Scratching the area allows eggs to be transmitted to the mouth when eating or sucking on the fingers, or onto other children’s hands. Once the eggs have been ingested, they live in the digestive tract and mature in around two to four weeks. The mature worms then live another six to eight weeks.
The eggs can survive outside a host for around three weeks and can contaminate everywhere – sheets, towels,underwear and fingernails. They are easily air-born and can settle anywhere.
Threadworms are highly contagious and can be spread easily through the family and school classes. They are very tenacious and can be difficult to get rid off. Any treatment needs to be reinforced with good hygiene.
Although they are extremely common some children are more susceptible than others. A healthy diet and regular bowel movements provide a less welcoming environment for the worms.
Worms thrive on sugar so try to avoid it as much as possible.
Raw fruits and vegetables help to rid the body of worms. As does an alkaline diet.
Foods which will deter worms are:
- pumpkin seeds
- raw carrots
- raw cabbage
- sesame seeds
These foods are best given on an empty stomach.
Give your child roast pumpkin seeds to eat throughout the day or mix up ground pumpkin seeds and add them to grated carrot. Pumpkin seeds paralyses the worms.
A day of only eating grated carrot can help clear worms.
Take a tablespoon of grated coconut on an empty stomach, followed by a teaspoon of castor oil.
Cayenne pepper can be used for older children who like spicy food. Give half a teaspoon daily sprinkled on natural yoghurt for a week. A little senna powder can also be added.
Raw garlic is effective at getting rid of worms, but again that is difficult to give to younger children.
Grapefruit seed extract has a strong anti-parastic action. Put 5-10 drops of it in their water or juice three times a day for two weeks, rest for two weeks, then repeat.
Grind six lemon pips and mix with honey. Repeat daily for a week then repeat two weeks later.
A probiotic supplement given for a month after the worms have cleared should help rebalance the population of healthy bacteria in the gut and deter further worms. Lactobacillus is a form of acidophilus which has been shown to fight off intestinal parasites. Give one or two capsules daily for about a month. Live yoghurt encourages a healthy gut flora.
The main herbs to use are:
These can be made into a tea. They are very bitter so add a little honey or molasses, or mix with peppermint or fennel. Drink on an empty stomach three times a day.
Laxatives can speed up the expulsion of worms. Try dandelion root and liquorice tea.
Try strong thyme tea with lemon juice on an empty stomach for two weeks.
Calendula cream rubbed around the anus should soothe any inflammation and itching.
Cina is the main remedy for threadworms.
Teucrium is useful if the syptoms don’t go away or the worms keep reappearing.
Granatum or Spigelia can be indicated if there is pain around the navel.
Silica helps to rid the body of unwanted objects.
Use a 6c or a 30c potency. Take three a day for two weeks. Give on an empty stomach away from food and drink.
Nat phos tissue salts renders the acidity levels in the digestive tract inhospitable to worms. Take morning and evening for a month.
A couple of drops of eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary or tea tree dropped into a little oil – garlic, olive, or calendula oils are good ones to use – can be rubbed onto the anus at night to soothe the itching and discourage the worms from laying eggs.
Add a couple of the essential oils listed above to a spray to leave a fine mist in the air to discourage airborn eggs.
A couple of drops of lavender and one drop of cardamom in a base oil will help prevent itching and irritation.
A soothing bath can be given using four drops of cardamom and three drops of chamomile mixed into a base oil and a teaspoonful of the mixture put into the bath.
Bathe the anus after using the toilet using warm water with one drop of tea tree oil.
Put a little tea tree oil in the water used to wash the hands.
- Wash hands before snacks and mealtimes, after each visit to the toilet and after touching animals or playing outside.
- Try to discourage children from itching their bottoms. Wearing close fitting pants in bed can help, and if necessary, a pair of cotton gloves to prevent transfer of the eggs.
- Keep finger nails short and try to scrub them daily with a nail brush.
- Wash bedding, towels and underwear frequently on a hot wash and wipe down any surfaces such as toilet seats which may be contaminated.
- Vacuum carpets around the bed and where the child plays.
- A bath or shower in the morning will remove eggs laid in the night.
- Each member of the family should use their own towel.
- Put Vaseline around the anus at night to discourage worms laying their eggs.
- Avoid allowing dogs to lick your child’s face.
Repeat all treatments after two weeks to make certain you expel worms which were just eggs at the first treatment.
As worms spread easily it’s a good idea to treat other family members preventatively.
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