What types of worms can infect humans?
The most common roundworm infections are:
- Threadworm (also known as pinworm).
- Ringworm (which is not actually a worm).
How do I know if I have worms, and if so, what type?
Threadworms (pinworms) are the most common roundworm infection. The most common symptom is severe itching around the anus. You may also see threadworms in stools or around the anus. These are 1cm-long white threads that look a bit like cotton thread. Threadworms are generally caused by poor hygiene so are more likely to affect children. They are spread from person to person via the eggs that are laid around the anus. Scratching the anus covers the hands with minute eggs and allows the eggs to be passed from person to person.
Tapeworm infections are extremely rare, typically far less than 100 infections a year in the UK. Flat, whitish segments from the tapeworm may be seen in stools. The segments contain tapeworm eggs. It is hard to tell if you have a tapeworm infection. Tapeworms can be caught from eating food contaminated with human or animal faeces, or by eating undercooked pork, beef or fish, particularly abroad.
How can I treat threadworm and what can I do about the itching?
Threadworm can be treated with mebendazole (see below).
Treatments for the anal itching
generally come in cream form. These creams won't kill the worms themselves so must be used in conjunction with mebendazole.
How can I treat tapeworm?
Tapeworm can only be treated using medicines prescribed by your Doctor.
What is ringworm?
Ringworm is not actually a worm, but a common name for a particular fungal infection
of the skin known more formally as tinea corporis
. Ringworm does not affect the stomach or gut and won't show up in stools.
Can I get worms from dogs?
Threadworm is generally passed from human to human, but can be passed via a dog if an infected person accidentally strokes eggs onto a dog's fur, and somebody else picks up the infection by stroking the same dog. There is a type of threadworm that affects dogs but the human threadworm itself is a species that can only infect humans. However, dog tapeworm or ringworm can affect humans, and can be caught from eating food infected with dog stools or, in rare cases, by accidentally ingesting a dog flea.
Can I get worms from eating certain foods?
Yes, if worms' eggs are swallowed. Poor food hygiene is the usual cause, where food is infected with faeces or has been handled by somebody who has threadworm. In addition, tapeworm can be caught from eating undercooked meat or fish, but rarely in the UK.
What is mebendazole?
Mebendazole is the active ingredients in the Ovex
range. This works by preventing the worms from absorbing sugar, and is suitable for threadworm (pinworm).
What do Express Chemist recommend for worms?
Roundworms such as threadworm can be treated with Ovex
which is highly recommended by Express Chemist for the treatment of threadworm. Ovex Suspension
is great for those who do not like to swallow tablets. Some patients like the convenience of the single-dose Ovex treatments.