Threadworms are a common problem in China. The treatment given in Chinese Medicine is similar to that for tapeworms. These tiny white worms, sometimes called pinworms, which look just like small pieces of thread, can caused itching in and around the anus. They infect the large intestine and are expelled in the faeces. At night, the female threadworms emerge to lay up to 10,000 eggs in the surrounding area of the anus. The eggs live for up to three weeks and are highly infectious. In children, the itching causes the child to scratch, transferring the worms to his hands and under his fingernails. Later, if he puts his fingers in his mouth or touches food, they can be swallowed and reach the intestine where the whole cycle begins again.
Hygiene is very important. Hands should be washed and the nails thoroughly scrubbed before each meal, and each time the child uses the lavatory, and the seams of underclothing should be carefully ironed, because worms can also lie concealed in the folds of material. Several herbs are effective, particularly quisqualis, whose seed should be fried or toasted and then chewed. (This remedy is toxic unless taken in small quantities and the dose must be precisely calculated. A Chinese Medicine practitioner will prescribe the right amount.)
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