When we talk about worm infections in humans, we’re usually talking about the most common type caused by pinworms or threadworms. But what are pinworms? Are they different from threadworms? First, it’s important to know that we aren’t talking about two different types of worms here – pinworms and threadworms are the same, they’ve just ended up with two different names. Its scientific name is Vermicularis enterobius, but both of its common names describe what the worm looks like: adult worms resemble a piece of cotton thread, and the females are pin-shaped with a narrow, tapered tail. Let’s take a look at where these pinworms or threadworms come from and how to recognise them.

Where do pinworms or threadworms come from?

Human pinworm or threadworm infections result from a cycle of infection and contamination that starts with worm eggs being swallowed. Once ingested, the pinworm or threadworm eggs end up in the intestines where they hatch into larvae and grow into adult worms. After living in the intestines for about a month, the female worms travel down the intestines to the anus. They exit the anus and lay their eggs on the surrounding skin, causing itching. When someone scratches their itchy bottom, these eggs contaminate their fingers and hands. And contaminated hands can then transfer these threadworm or pinworm eggs back to the mouth or spread the eggs to other people by touching objects around the house or shared food, continuing the cycle of infection.

Pinworms or threadworms are highly contagious, with children commonly picking up these worm infections from other kids at school or daycare. And while children are more likely to catch worms than adults, a pinworm or threadworm infection can easily spread through an entire family when one member of the household has a case of worms. So now you know how you can pick up a pinworm or threadworm infection, let’s move on to how to recognise the signs and symptoms you might experience when you have an infection.

How to recognise pinworms or threadworms and their eggs

For many people, a pinworm or threadworm infection may not cause very obvious symptoms, and for some people, it may not cause any symptoms at all. So how can you tell whether you have pinworms or threadworms?

While the adult worms are pretty small – only about 1 cm long – and mostly live in the intestines, it is possible to see them if you know where and when to look. When it’s time to lay their eggs, the females emerge from the anus to lay their eggs on the skin around the anus. They usually do this during the night, so you may be able to see these worms moving around the anus at night or find some in underwear or bedsheets the next morning.

What about the pinworm or threadworm eggs? Well, these are pretty tiny and can’t be seen with the naked eye. But your doctor may ask you to do a ‘sticky tape test’ to confirm whether you indeed have pinworms or threadworms. This involves pressing a piece of sticky tape on the skin around the anus first thing in the morning to collect a sample of any eggs that were laid during the night. The tape is then examined under a microscope to confirm the presence of these threadworm or pinworm eggs.

Pinworm or threadworm symptoms, causes and treatments

When worm infections do cause symptoms, the most common symptom is an itchy bottom at night. And whether it’s threadworms in kids or threadworms in adults, this night-time itching can cause disturbed and disrupted sleep. Other symptoms to look out for in both children and adults include restlessness, irritability, teeth-grinding, stomach pain, nausea, or vomiting.

We’ve already talked about what causes pinworms or threadworms, and how easily the cycle of infection and contamination can continue. So while most pinworm or threadworm infections are relatively harmless and don’t cause serious problems, it’s important to treat worms when they do occur. Two key parts of pinworm or threadworm treatment involve treating the entire household at the same time, even if they’re not showing signs of infection, and ensuring good hygiene practices to help prevent the continued spread of worm eggs and avoid reinfection.

When it comes to treating pinworms or threadworms, VERMOX has you and your family covered. VERMOX kills worms with a single dose. With the same dose for adults and children aged 2 years and over, it’s easy to treat the whole family at the same time. A follow-up dose taken 2 to 3 weeks after the initial dose may be necessary to help make sure all worms are eradicated.

So, there’s the lowdown on pinworms and threadworms – what they are, how to recognise when they might be affecting you or your family, and what to do if they do make an appearance. With a range of worming solutions for the whole family, VERMOX makes treating pinworms or threadworms simple.

Frequently asked questions about pinworms and threadworms


Just the name! Pinworms and threadworms are the same worm – known in scientific circles as Vermicularis enterobius – and can cause infections in humans when their eggs get ingested.


Unfortunately yes, it’s common to be reinfected by pinworms or threadworms when worm eggs are transferred to the mouth from contaminated hands, food, or other objects. And these worms can easily spread between children at school and family members at home that are in close contact with each other.


Most treatments for pinworms or threadworms kill the worms but not the eggs, so it’s important to ensure good hygiene practices when you start treatment to help prevent the spread of the worm eggs and break the cycle of infection and contamination.


Adults are less likely to get pinworms or threadworms than children, but these worm infections are highly contagious and can spread easily among an entire family when one member of the household has a case of worms.