Worms belong underground. Or at the end of a fishing rod. They certainly don’t belong inside my little one’s digestive tract. Imagine my horror when my son’s preschool principal advised all parents to deworm their kids twice a year. I was aghast to learn that it’s not uncommon for kids to get worms. That between ages 2-10, many children open up bed and breakfast for squiggly tiny creatures inside their intestine. I was convinced it wouldn’t happen to my kid. After all, my son bathed twice a day. I applied liberal doses of disinfectant on every surface he touched. Where could he possibly come across a worm? Then one day at the park, he ran up to me with a toothy grin and a fist full of dirt. That’s when it struck me. Kids just love to play in the mud, the natural habitat of these miniature-sized beasts. Hello worm, meet my son.
There was no way these worms were was going to take up residence inside my kid on my watch. It was time to get educated about worms, and more importantly, about deworming a child.
How kids get worms
Theses tiny, white worms may be only 8-13 mm in size, but that doesn‘t stop them from wreaking major havoc. As mentioned earlier, playing in the dirt is the number one cause. This is the natural home for worms and their eggs. During playtime, the mud gets wedged under the fingernails. If left unwashed, that bit of worm-carrying dirt could find its way inside your child’s mouth. But it‘s also possible for kids to contract worms by touching contaminated surfaces. Tiny worm eggs could settle on toys, furniture, classrooms and just about anything your kid touches. They can also hitch a ride from person to person. If one child has worms, he could unknowingly spread it around. It‘s literally like opening a can of worms.
It’s not just kids, though. Even adults, especially regular meat-eaters, are susceptible to contracting worms.
Signs of worm in your child’s system
- Itchiness around the anus area
- Restless sleep
- Weight loss
- Stomach pain
- Visible white worms around the anus (check carefully as these worms are tiny)
So, should I start panicking about deworming?
I was all ready to go out, buy a roll of bubble wrap and build a plastic fort around my kid’s fingernails. Until my paediatrician waved his hand and dismissed my worries on the spot. Good news! I didn’t need to panic, after all. Worms may easily find a way into our kids‘ bodies, but there are effective and effortless ways to evict them quickly. There are enough over the counter medication and treatment to take care of the problem. And life can go back to normal without a hitch. These medicines are safe for the child without side effects.
Some paediatricians prescribe it twice a year once a child is 1.5-2 years old and some prescribe it based on symptoms. So if fellow moms give it regularly to their kids while you are not prescribed it by your paediatrician, or vice versa, do not panic.
When the paediatrician prescribed it to my daughter at 2.5 years mark, I was hesitant. But within 24 hours of giving her the medicine, we observed an increase in appetite, she even insisted on 2nd servings :-)!
How to prevent worms in kids
If you‘re like me, you‘re ready to do whatever it takes to ensure your kids never get worms. All we need is to take a few precautions like:
- Thoroughly wash your child’s hands before eating, after playtime and after visiting the toilet
- Encourage your kids to follow proper hygiene standards by bathing daily
- Keep fingernails short and clean
- After your child turns two, your paediatrician may prescribe deworming medicine to be given twice a year*
Note: *Check with your doctor, Independence day and Republic day every year are easy to remember as deworming days as well
Curative measures for worms in kids
If your child does get worms, it‘s okay. No real need to fly off the handle or hit the panic button. This happens to a lot of kids. And it is easily curable. Here is the treatment plan you should start immediately:
- Inform your doctor right away and start prescribed deworming medicine
- Medicate all members of the family to avoid the parasites from spreading
- Wash your family‘s clothes, bedsheets, underwear and other fabrics in hot water
- Disinfect toilets and bathrooms
- Give your child raw carrots to munch on as they help push the worms out of the body
- Fresh ginger juice (3-4 drops) mixed with jaggery (2 tsp) is an effective home remedy for worms
Much to my relief, I discovered that the menace of worms can be easily treated. I’m not going to stop my child from playing in the mud, either. As long as I maintain clean hygiene, keep a watchful eye on my child and my paediatrician on speed dial.