Are you at risk of worms?

Dog owners may be used to treating their animals for worms, but did you know there are some worms that can affect humans too?

With poor hygiene the most common reason for the spread of worms in humans, here’s a quick guide to the three most common types that could affect you, plus how to prevent them:

Threadworms   The most common type of worm infection in the UK, threadworms are tiny worms that infect the large intestine, with children under the age of 10 most affected. They don’t always cause any symptoms, but may make your bottom feel quite itchy. You may notice them as tiny pieces of thread around your bottom or in your stools.

If you suspect you or your child has threadworms, ask your local Careway pharmacist about over-the-counter medicines that treat the infection.

Roundworms   Like threadworms, roundworms infect the gut and don’t often cause any symptoms. The only way you may know you have roundworms is if you see a worm in your stools.

However, there are few reported cases in the UK every year, most of which are contracted abroad. If you’ve recently travelled to a tropical or sub-tropical country and suspect you have a roundworm infection, see your GP for a prescription medicine to treat it.

Tapeworms   These too can live in your intestine and don’t always cause symptoms. Like roundworms, they are rare in the UK, where they are most commonly caused by eating raw contaminated pork, beef or freshwater fish.

Spotting a tapeworm infection can be difficult: look out for larvae or segments from the tapeworm –  these look like white grains of rice – in your stools. Symptoms can also include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, weight loss and dizziness.

To prevent a worm infestation, follow these hygiene rules:

  • Wash your hands after using the toilet and before eating, including under the nails (use a nail brush). Also wash your hands after handling animals, after touching soil and after changing a nappy, and before and after preparing or handling food including raw meat or fish
  • Keep your nails short
  • Wear close-fitting pants in bed and change them daily
  • Disinfect your toilet seat and handle or chain regularly
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked pork, beef or freshwater fish
  • Take extra care if you’re travelling to a developing country by following our travel hygiene tips

Find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.