What makes your butt itch

Pinworms in the intestines: scratching your bottom starts a vicious circle

It itches and itches. There is so much pinch in the bottom that you can barely fall asleep. Then it can be that you have been infected with pinworms. These are tiny worms that live in people's intestines. "The worms feed on the food components in the intestine," explains Ralf Bialek. He is a pediatrician and an expert on pinworms. But how do the crawlies get into the intestines?

Pinworms lay eggs. The eggs are so small that you can't see them with the naked eye. For example, they can get into your mouth using your hands. If a person swallows these eggs, adult worms develop from them in the intestine within two weeks. The female worm and the male worm then mate.

The females then crawl along the whole intestine to the bottom hole. They lay thousands of sticky eggs on the skin around the hole. When the worms crawl out of the bottom and lay the eggs, it can be terribly itchy - especially at night. "There are children who notice that something is in their buttocks and then wake up from it," says the expert Ralf Bialek.

What not to do

The problem is: if their bum itches, many people scratch it. As a result, worm eggs get on the hands and under the fingernails. If you then come to your mouth with your hands, it can happen that you swallow eggs again. Some even grab an object and smear the worm eggs on it - without even knowing it. If someone else touches the object, they can get infected with the eggs.

Doctors can tell if someone has pinworms in a number of ways. Sometimes you can watch the worms crawling out of the butt hole. Or you can see them in the feces.

The specialist also recommends a very special trick: "It is best to stick a transparent adhesive strip briefly on the skin around the buttock hole and then tear it off again." Then the eggs will stick to the adhesive strip. And you can look at them under the microscope.

Pinworms cannot cause dangerous diseases. "They are harmless in themselves," says the expert. That's why it doesn't matter if you get infected with it. Only the itchy bottom is annoying.

Anyone who has pinworms should still take medication against them. It is also important: Wash all things well that could contain worm eggs. So underpants, towel, pajamas, bed linen - and of course your hands. Help is available at www.kindergesundheit-info.de; www.kinderäerzte-im-netz.de