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The pinworm (Enterobius vermicularis) is the causative agent of the world occurring oxyuriasis, This intestinal parasite infection is also a common diagnosis in Germany. Oxyuriasis is particularly prevalent in infants. It is transmitted from person to person, mainly due to poor hygiene. Affected people usually do not know that they have infected with pinworms. The oxyuriasis can be treated easily. Here you can read everything important about oxyuriasis.

ICD codes for this disease: ICD codes are internationally valid medical diagnosis codes. They are found e.g. in medical reports or on incapacity certificates. B80ArtikelübersichtOxyuriasis
  • description
  • symptoms
  • Causes and risk factors
  • Examinations and diagnosis
  • treatment
  • Disease course and prognosis

Oxyuriasis: description

The oxyuriasis is caused by an infection with the pinworm. Some physicians call the infection with the intestinal parasites also enterobiose (in English: enterobiasis). The name is based on the Latin name of the worm: Enterobius vermicularis.

Parasitic diseases are usually a rarity in Germany and are often a traveler's item from the tropics. One exception is oxyuriasis, which is also common in developed countries like Germany. Worldwide, approximately 400 million people are infected with pinworms.

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Oxyuriasis: symptoms

The pinworm (Enterobius vermicularis) often go unnoticed for a long time, as there are no symptoms. The most common and specific symptom of oxyuriasis is the itching of the anus and vagina. Since the female worms usually emerge from the anus at night to distribute their eggs in the skin folds of the surrounding skin, the itching is particularly annoying at night. Inspecting the chair or underpants sometimes discovers small worms. The patient usually seeks the doctor for these two reasons.

In infants, a behavioral or developmental disorder may be noticed. Due to the itching, there are sometimes also indirect sleep disturbances. In girls and women there is a risk that the worm attacks the female genitals and causes an inflammatory reaction there. In very strong infestation, inflammatory processes in the intestinal wall rarely occur. Such events may end in appendicitis or a perforated (burst) bowel. If you do not react quickly in such situations, there is an acute danger to the patient's life. As a rule, enterobiose / oxyuriasis is a harmless disease and complications are very rare.

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Oxyuriasis: causes and risk factors

Pinworms are more common in babies and children, but sometimes in adults. Women are generally more affected than men. The pinworm is a small, filamentous parasite, which belongs to the nematode (Fadewürmer).

As parasites, they belong to the living organisms that live in another organism (for example, in humans) and feed themselves at the expense of them. The pinworm attacks only humans. The adult worms live in the colon, where they develop from larvae to adult worms.

The male is about half a millimeter, the female up to 1.5 inches tall. After fertilization, the female migrates to the anus and preferably places up to 10,000 eggs at night in the skin folds directly around the anus. This causes an itch, through which the eggs quickly reach the hands and under the fingernails of the infected. If the contaminated fingers are taken into the mouth, self-infection is possible.

In addition, the eggs are transferred to objects during food preparation or by hand contact. Since the eggs remain infectious for up to three weeks in a humid environment, re-infection by remaining eggs is possible even after successful treatment. The worms begin at body temperature after just a few hours their larval development in the freshly laid eggs. After five to six weeks, the worms are sexually mature and start egg production.

The oxyuriasis is transmitted especially via hand contact. An important risk factor is therefore lack of hygiene and careless hand washing. Since the infection occurs especially in infants, the risk of oxyuriasis is higher in nursery schools or nurseries than at home. The parasite can also be transmitted during sexual intercourse. Especially anal-oral practices make infection possible.

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Oxyuriasis: examinations and diagnosis

For the doctor, the anal itching is often the first sign that indicates a possible oxyuriasis infection. First stop is usually the family doctor. This will first ask the patient extensively. He could ask questions like:

  • When does the itching mainly occur?
  • Have you observed white worms in the feces or the anus?

Further evidence of a pinworm infestation may be a blood test. There are more and more immune cells that fight targeted against parasites, so-called eosinophils. If their number is increased, it is called an eosinophilia.

However, the best method is the microscopic proof of the eggs early in the morning, before cleaning or defecation. This is usually done with a transparent adhesive film that is glued to the skin around the anus. The tape is carefully peeled off and placed on a microscope slide. The eggs can be detected directly using a microscope.

In some cases, especially in case of heavy infestation, the small white worms are already recognizable on the chair. When the worms reach the outside world, they die quickly. Sometimes, however, you can still see them alive in the chair that has left the chair. Especially the females stay close to the intestinal exit. They are recognizable by their white, thread-like shape and their whip-like movements.