Pinworms in children are most common at the toddler and preschool stage. And what are pinworms? They are half-inch, threadlike worms that are thankfully harmless, but they can be the cause of sleep problems that come out of nowhere.

Usually, a child suddenly awakens 20-40 minutes after falling asleep, crying or even screaming and complaining of rectal itching or pain.

How to Check for Pinworms in Kids

It sounds disgusting…but when your sweetie wakes up, bring in a flashlight and look at his anus. You may see little white threadlike worms. If so, you can put some soothing ointment on his bottom (and then wash your hands). And call the doctor in the morning.

Even if you never see the creepy crawlers, a nighttime itchy anus may be a sign of this problem. Ask your doctor if medication would be warranted for your child and all family members, except babies. Pinworms are very easy to spread, and you don’t want them to spread between family members for months. (Pinworms also spread quickly in day-care settings. Be sure to tell your school about the worms, so other parents can be informed.)

The next morning—after taking the medicine—immediately give your tot a good washing. Scrub his bottom and his fingernails, too, because scratching the anus will deposit microscopic eggs under the nails where they can later be spread to toys and other people. Then, wash your child’s sheets, blanket and pillowcase in hot soapy water to rid them of any eggs.

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