Pinworms. Or, How Wikipedia spared my child nights of agony

So Mallory has pinworms. That explains a lot. What does it explain you may ask.

In December, suddenly she started complaining about severe pain in her bum. As in crying, cannot get to sleep unless medicated pain in her bum and even then only after a long time of squirming, crying and much horror on her parents’ part.

We went up and down the list of possibilities, all bowel related. Not enough vegetables. Tiny tears in her bum. Sun spots. Irene took her in to Centretown Community Health Centre. They thought maybe a big poo had torn her bum. In retrospect it seems like a daft explanation because having a poo wasn’t ever painful.

But for a few nights, she would start screaming around bed time.

I have to confess, I thought it was a bit of a put on. She’s often a bit of a dramatist, shall we say, and has had a habit of complaining about her tummy hurting (without anything ever coming of it) for longer than I can remember.

And when her night time bum pain just went away on its own, I wrote it down to a combination of diet and lack of sufficient parental attention.

But the screaming pain returned last Saturday. And nothing would dial it down. We’d taken to double dosing her with Motrin which probably does nothing for that sort of pain but does act as a sedative. Sunday night it seemed to be getting worse.

At a certain point, in one of our consults with Centretown, either their after-hours phone line or when Irene took her in in December someone raised — and dismissed — the possibility of pinworms. Probably because they’re only supposed to itch. But the worms themselves only come out at night, so the symptoms only present at night time.

Not normally a fan of Dr. Google

After one harrowing evening, I Googled pinworms. Normally I’m not a fan of Dr. Google because it tends to whip up the hypochondriac in all of us. But I was feeling shaken, helpless and scared of what it could be. And the IRL medical establishment had no answers, so I took the plunge while waiting for the Centretown after-hours doc to return my page.

The Wikipedia article on pinworms said symptoms could extend to acute pain.

I took Mallory into the Centretown drop-in the next day. After the usual prodding and bum exam, the nurse practitioner kinda shrugged. I asked her about pinworms. She said they just caused itching. I told her about my visit to Dr. Wikipedia. She agreed — with some reticence — to requisition a paddle (a sticky piece of plastic used to catch the worms on the child’s bum).

Wednesday morning I administered the test and took it to the lab. Today we got the results. Pinworms.

So we’re going to take the pills — all of us — and do a lot more hand washing and laundry for the next few weeks.

Interestingly, the Mayo clinic pinworm page notes that if you get enough of them in you, pinworms can cause “vague gastrointestinal symptoms, such as intermittent abdominal pain and nausea.”

While I don’t look forward to the new hygiene regimen — it’s going to be hard on Mallory — I’m still very happy and relieved that we’ve found the cause of this, that it can be treated, and that Mallory likely hasn’t actually been crying wolf all this time.


  1. In the realm of things that are uncommon enough to miss diagnosis? Glad it's resolved, anyway. Hey – what are you up to today/tomorrow?

  2. Wow.. thank god for your enquiring mind. and of course for dr google… its amazing how many things really pass the doctors and they “just don’t know”… now I’m curious how you get them… gonna read more..
    I ‘ve heard of a lot of people who had parasites for very long amounts of time ( the symptoms were there for a long time with no doctor havinga n explanation) and once they were treated as such.. poof! great health returns. another reason to get knowledgeable ourselves eh?
    wishing you all well!

  3. Thank you! We are in the midst of misdiagnosis – my poor child has been through 2 months of agony. We have been to doctors and specialists to diagnose her pelvic pain (not itching). She noticed a small white “thing” in her bowel movement and that clued us into the possibility of pinworms. We looked last night and found a live one in her vagina – it was horrifying but at the same time relieving. We pray pinworm treatment will rid her of the pain she’s been in for weeks. Thank for sharing Mallory’s story for we felt alone – none of our doctors seem to think pinworms can cause the severe pain she has endured.

    • Hi my 5 year old son is in agony with I think is worms it’s starts every night when he goes to bed and he is screaming and sobbing with the pain I have treated him with ovex medicine and nothing seems to be helping I feel helpless and not no what else I can do

      • Combantrin is the over the counter product that you can use to kill the adult worms. Symptoms should abate soon.

        You can also use a hydrocortisone cream to reduce the irritation.

      • I have the same problem with my 5 year old daughter. Ive used opex treatment twice now in 3 months and its not helping. Doctors keep shrugging me off saying worms doesnt caise pain just itching…but my daughter screams in pain. Im ringing the gp again tomorrow to try and be referred to soneone else. Seeing your 5 year old in so much pain is awful

  4. This post saved my kid! He was in terrible pain at nights. We and doc thought it was rectal tear. It was pinworms! He hadn’t known or told me he was seeing them in his poop! Many thanks!!!!!

  5. This totally is what we are going through now and I also thought of worms but had only heard of itching now pain… We ended up at after hours doctor last night due to the severity of pain, now I’m off to buy some worm treatment first thing tomorrow to try this theory! Thank you for sharing and thank goodness for Google so I found this post!

  6. thank goodness for your story!it’s exactly what’s happened to our daughter…and now hopefully we ve solved the problem.the pain that comes with pinworm should be more recognised…my poor daughter has been seen by gp and this was not noticed!

  7. Found this trying to consult Dr. Google about bedtime bum pain. It comes and goes, and I honestly can’t see anything wrong. She’s been to the doctor once about it but no results. Thanks for the potential help!

    • What was her out come . My daughter also has itching comes and goes waiting for stool test ! Treating worms in the mean time :)thanks

      • Haven’t had an incident in quite some time. But I don’t think we ‘beat’ them. I have the feeling she just learned to tolerate it.

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