Childhood Parasites

In this lesson we will continue with the subject of childhood diseases and how to cope with them to assure better health and general well-being.


The problem of parasites in children can provoke fear and embarrassement in parents, but neither response is necessary according to Dr. Smith. He refers to parasites as a children's social disease, as children only aquire them through their interaction with other children.

Pinworms : Dr. Smith notes that 80 % of children between 2 and 10 years of age at some time contract a case of pinworms. Common symptoms include irritability, night wakefulness, teeth grinding, itchy anal area and stomach aches. The eggs are carried by children to everything they touch, including the mouth. Eggs are then swallowed and hatch in the lower colon where the worms mate. The pregnant female crawls out at night and lays thousands of eggs around the rim of the anus and the cycle is repeated. The parasites are transmitted from one child to another in social settings.

Dr. Smith recommends that a parent inspects the child's rectal area at night when the child is sleeping for evidence of the parasite. One way to diagnose this problem is to perform a scotch tape test. To do this, pat the sticky side of the tape against the area around the child's anal opening first thing in the morning. Fold the tape together with the smooth side out and send or bring it to your physician to be tested.

To treat childhood parasites, Dr. Smith recommends a garlic enema. Place two cloves of garlic in a quart (liter) of water. Boil the water for a few minutes, cool the liquid and place the fluid in a enema bag. Bring a chair to the edge of the bathtub and have the child lay face down on the chair, with his/her legs hanging into the tub. Lubricate the anal opening, slide the enema tube in about an inch or so. Let the fluid run in and then out into the tub.

David Huffmann suggests peeling a clove of garlic, pricking it with pins so that the oils will leak out, and inserting the clove into the anus (remove pins first) of the infected child. This remedy may also work with adults, but it can be irritating for children, and they may not be able to tolerate it. In treating pinworms, Dr. Moskowitz prescribes the pharmaceutical drug vermox. He explains that natural remedies for treating pinworms may take a long time to be effective and the process can be very trying for both the parents and child. " Vermox is one of my few prescriptions. It's the kind of drug that I really like. One dose of it, and the pinworms are gone for good."

Head Lice : Lice are another common infestation amongst young children, particularly those of school age, and are usually caused by the child's contact with other children. The most noticeable symptom is a persistant scratching of the scalp. Upon close inspection, parents may find tiny, grey-colored insects crawling amongst the hairs. These are the adults. The lice eggs (nits) are white in color and adhere to the hair's shaft about 1/4 inch from the scalp. The nits have a seven to fourteen day incubation period, so patience and strick adherence to recommended treatment are key.

If the child attends school or day-care, a set of treatment guidelines will be required to eliminate all lice and eggs from the child before he/she can return to school. This usually involves washing the child's head with special head lice shampoo (Either over-the-counter formula or prescription) and combing out all the nits with a fine-toothed comb. In addition, all clothing, towels, and bed linens used by the infected child must be washed in hot (160 F) water. Nonwashable items, such as pillows, may be dry-cleaned, set aside in a plastic bag for 5 to 7 days, or placed in a freezer for 2 to 3 days. All carpets, upholstery (including car upholstery) and mattresses must be cacuumed, and the bag discarded outside. Any hair care item or accessories, such as combs, brushes or barretts need to be washed and soaked in medicated shampoo or very hot water. As the condition is extremely contagious, all other members of the household must be examined daily, along with the infected person, for at least 2 weeks. Pets do not need to be treated.

Lice shampoos such as Kwell, whcih is recommended by Dr. Moskowitz and David Huffmann are usually effective instantaneously, since they are essentially insecticides. However, it is recommended that they not be used more that once every seven days. Some parents choose to use natural remedies first. One remedy suggested by Dr.Jones is to use one part essential oil of lavender mixed with three parts olive oil. After scrubbing the child's scalp with the mixture of oils, a vinegar rinse helps to loosen the nits from the hair's shaft. Dr. Jones stresses that this must be followed by a thorough combing and removal of the eggs, as well as the usual cleaning procedures.

This concludes our 4 part study of childhood diseases and parasites. Our next subject will be on hyperactivity in children.


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