The Diagnosis and Treatment of Pinworm Infection

Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2019 Mar 29;116(13):213-219. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.2019.0213.


Background: Symptomatic infection with pinworm (Enterobius vermicularis), a human pathogen, is clinically relevant in Germany, with an estimated prevalence in childhood of 2-20%. Enterobiasis can cause major mental distress. There is little systematically verified knowledge on the treatment of this condition, and there is no corresponding German guideline. This review is, therefore, intended as a summary of the current state of knowledge.

Methods: This review is based on pertinent publications retrieved by a selective search in PubMed for literature appearing from 1 January 1990 to 5 February 2019 and containing the search terms "enterobiasis," "oxyuriasis," "Enterobius vermicula- ris," "pinworm," and "threadworm."

Results: More than one billion people worldwide are thought to be infected with pinworm. Estimates of its prevalence among kindergarten and primary-school pupils in Europe are generally near 20%. Infants (<2 years of age), adolescents (>14 years of age), and adults are only sporadically affected. The main risk factors are age 4-11 years, uncontrolled anus-finger-mouth contact, nail-biting (onychophagia/peri- onychophagia), unsupervised body hygiene, and poor compliance with basic hand hygiene. No large-scale, randomized, controlled trials of treatment are available. The approved antihelminthic agents are mebendazole, pyrantel embonate, and pyrvinium embonate (success rates up to >90%). For recurrent infections, prolonged treatment for up to 16 weeks (a "pulse scheme") is recommended.

Conclusion: In nearly all cases, antihelminthic treatment along with attention to hygienic measures can successfully eradicate pinworm infection and prevent recurrence and autoinfection. The involvement of all persons living in the patient's house- hold, including sexual partners, is a prerequisite to the lasting success of treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Animals
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Enterobiasis* / diagnosis
  • Enterobiasis* / drug therapy
  • Enterobius
  • Europe
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Hygiene
  • Infant