Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Little boy learning to potty train.

Little boy learning to potty train.
beginning of content

Worms in humans

Several types of worm can cause problems in humans, including threadworms, roundworms, tapeworms, whipworms and hookworms.

Threadworms are the only common worm infestation seen in Australia. Signs of an infestation include an itchy bottom, disturbed sleep, irritability, tiredness and a lack of interest in eating.

Threadworms are small parasites that live in the intestines of humans. They are particularly common in children under the age of 10. The worms are white, with a blunt head and a pointed tail. They can live for up to 6 weeks.

The female worm lays many tiny eggs around the anus. This usually happens at night while the person is asleep since the female worms only come out at night. While laying the eggs, the worm also produces a chemical that creates an itchiness and causes the person to scratch the area.

Eggs then stick under the fingernails and on fingertips and can be transferred to the mouth. They may then be swallowed and cause a re-infestation.

The swallowed eggs hatch in the intestine. After a couple of weeks, the worms reach adult size and begin to reproduce.

You cannot catch threadworms from animals with worms. The only way animals may be responsible for spreading human threadworms is by transporting them on their fur after human contact.

Treatment for threadworms is designed to get rid of the parasites and prevent re-infestation. To successfully treat threadworms, you can either follow the strict hygiene practices described in worm treatments, or see your doctor who may be able to prescribe medication for you.

When taking medicine, you should also ensure you follow strict hygiene practices to prevent re-infestation.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about worms, why not use healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self-care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Last reviewed: July 2015

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 4 results

Worms - myDr.com.au

Threadworms: find out about symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and how to avoid re-infection.

Read more on myDr website

Vermox Tablets - myDr.com.au

Vermox Tablets - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Read more on myDr – Consumer Medicine Information website

Combantrin-1 with Mebendazole Chocolate Squares - myDr.com.au

Combantrin-1 with Mebendazole Chocolate Squares - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Read more on myDr – Consumer Medicine Information website

Zentel Chewable tablets - myDr.com.au

Zentel Chewable tablets - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Read more on myDr – Consumer Medicine Information website

Check your symptoms Find a health service

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback