Pinworm Infection | Causes & Risk Factors

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How do people get pinworms?

Pinworms are contagious and easily spread, usually from child to child. Pinworm eggs can be picked up on children's fingers when they are playing. When children who are infected scratch their itchy bottoms, the tiny eggs can get under their fingernails. Eggs can stay or your child's skin for several hours. They can survive for up to 3 weeks on clothes, bedding and toys. If the eggs are on your child's hands or toys and your child puts their fingers or toys in their mouth, the tiny eggs can enter their bodies. Children who don’t wash their hands thoroughly before eating and children who suck their thumbs are at an increased risk.

Although pinworm infections are more common in school-age children, anyone can get it. As children who are infected move around the house, the eggs may be spread, and other family members can become infected. Sometimes adults breathe in the eggs when the bed covers are shaken. However, this is not very common.

Pets do not spread pinworms, although they may carry their own kinds of worms.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 09/00

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