I thought I had persistent threadworms, but…

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I thought I had persistent threadworms, but…

I want to share my story, because I think there is a chance other people are suffering from the same problem I had. You can read it in full, or skip to the end for the important bit.

I first got threadworms two years ago from my boyfriend. He woke up one night complaining about an itchy bum, and asked if I'd ever had the same problem. I said I hadn't, but a few weeks later, I also started feeling a tickling in my anus in the evenings. I looked it up online and discovered that threadworms were the most likely explanation. A couple of days later, I found a live wriggling worm in my stool, which confirmed the diagnosis.

I was pretty distressed about it, especially having read some of the horror stories here about people never getting rid of them, so we were extremely thorough in treating it. We each took a dose of mebendazole once a fortnight for 8 weeks. We washed our bedding, nightclothes and underwear every day or two; and showered morning and night. It was tiresome, and I worried, because I would occasionally still feel that tickling sensation, but after a couple of months it seemed to be gone, so we went back to normal.

Then, 7 months later, we went to stay with my boyfriend's parents. I had suspected they might also be infected because my boyfriend was living with them at first, and so I wasn't too surprised when, a few weeks afterwards, I felt the tickly-worm-sensation in my bottom again. So we went through the whole routine. We also told his parents, and they treated themselves. Again, after a few weeks, thankfully it seemed to go away.

Then again, 5 months after that, out of the blue, I felt them again. I couldn't explain how we had been reinfected this time, and what was worse, it didn't seem to get better, no matter what we did, I would keep getting the tickling sensation. At first I could feel it 20 or 30 times throughout the day, later it died down to about 5 times per day, but it would not go away. It did seem odd that I felt them during the day and not at night, but I figured the worms probably aren't really that strict in their behaviour. We took mebendazole once a week for 8 weeks. We showered twice daily, and washed all of our clothes and bedding as often as possible. I read more about threadworms, both scientific papers and other people's experiences, and I settled on the theory that the mebendazole isn't 100% effective, and that some eggs hatch and live on inside of you. I also suspected that we were reinfecting each other during sex, despite how careful we were trying to be with our hygiene. I couldn't see any other explanations for why we weren't getting rid of them.

At the same time, I was confused as to why I couldn't find more conclusive proof of the threadworms themselves. I did the tape test a few times, and on only one occasion did I find something that looked a bit like a worm. I never found them again in my stool, but I was aware that this has a low 'success' rate. I once even got my boyfriend inspect my bum at night when I felt the tickling, because I was sure that he would be able to see the worm crawling out, but he found nothing. In the end, I decided this was just because we were being so thorough in our hygiene - evidently we were keeping the worm population at a low number, too low to find them, yet not managing to eradicate them entirely.

Also, I should mention that my boyfriend didn't feel them as frequently as I did. In fact at first he didn't feel them at all, but he trusted that he would have them because I did. Later he said he might have felt them once or twice. It seemed overall that he just wasn't as sensitive to it as I was.

My mum suggested that it might be a phantom sensation. I was outraged - I had experienced the feeling of worms and I knew what it felt like, and it felt like this. There was no way it was just a regular tickle - I didn't normally get this kind of feeling, not in this place, and it was so distinctly like a worm. I explained to her how much I wished it was phantom, because I was exhausted from all of the constant cleaning and washing, and in despair at the thought of facing this my entire life. But I couldn't stop, because if they were this bad when we were trying so hard to get rid of them, then imagine what would happen if we weren't so careful.

Finally, I went to see a doctor, to see if she had any suggestions: either a better way to treat it, another explanation, maybe it was a different parasite this time. She listened to my story, and she did an inspection of my anus. She couldn't find any evidence of worms, and said that she didn't think it was possible that we still had worms after so many treatments of mebendazole.

She diagnosed it as 'pruritus ani', basically, itchy bottom, or irritated anus. This can be caused by a few things, but in this case she was said it was probably just sensitized skin. She said that this can become a vicious cycle, when you scratch, it damages the sensitive tissue, and causes further itching. I said that I didn't scratch at all. But then she said it can also be caused by washing with soap.


That was when it all made sense to me. I had been washing my bottom more and more thoroughly, in an attempt to get rid of the eggs that I thought were causing the reinfection. Sometimes I would spend two minutes just washing it. And in fact I'd just been making things worse.

We immediately:

a) stopped taking the mebendazole

b) stopped showering twice a day, and stopped washing all our clothes and bedding as often

c) stopped washing and scrubbing ourselves so thoroughly in the shower

It took a couple of days for the tickling sensation to go away, but it did. It's now 5 months later, and we've had absolutely no further problems.

Looking back, I feel a bit silly that I didn't realise before. The warning signs were:

a) feeling the tickling during the day, not just at night

b) not being able to find definitive evidence of worms with the tape test, nor any other methods

c) the fact that I was feeling the tickling and my boyfriend wasn't, even though we live together. And eventually he did feel it a couple of times - this was brought on by the constant washing, not the other way around.

I don't know how it began, maybe I just washed a bit too thoroughly once, and then it snowballed because the thing we thought was helping the problem was actually making it worse and worse.

I can't say whether other people who think they have worms are in fact suffering from this, but it certainly seems possible. If you have the feeling of worms, but haven't actually been able to find them from the tape test, and have taken regular doses of mebendazole, I definitely recommend going to see a doctor, or consider that this might be the explanation.

If you do have this problem, it would be a good idea to switch to an emollient soap-substitute. These are often used to treat eczema, because they don't irritate the skin as much. You can buy them at the pharmacy counter and I've used one before, but I didn't actually need to this time.

SHORT VERSION: I had threadworms once, and treated them with mebendazole. Got them again, and couldn't get rid of them despite weekly doses of mebendazole and frequent washing. It turned out that the problem was the washing itself! The soap was making my anus extra sensitive, and causing a tickle that felt EXACTLY like the worms. I stopped washing my bottom so thoroughly, and the problem went away very quickly after that.

0 likes, 16 replies

16 Replies

  • Posted

    I probably should have made my post shorter, haha.

    If anyone reads this and it helps them, PLEASE REPLY. There are so many scare stories here, and I think they are actually causing more problems, like they did for me. It would be good to hear if anyone else has found out this was their solution.

    • Posted

      this was extremely helpful, thank you

      I'm also confused whether it is threadworms or pruritis ani!

      but this really helped, thanks for sharing

  • Posted

    Been reading so many scare stories and after two weeks I was convinced that mine had come back-despite taking the medicine again and washing so thouroughly its ridiculous. I now think that it might just be itchiness from overwashing as there is no evidence of worms so far that I can tell!
    • Posted

      It makes me really happy to hear that it might have helped! smile Would love to hear from you again in a week or two to confirm whether it went away for you.

      I now think the best advice for anyone who is unsure, or who first discovers they have worms, is to take the mebendazole for a little while to play it safe (personally I would take one dose per week for six weeks) but don't go overboard on the washing and cleaning.

      I do feel bad for anyone who is suffering and sees the worms on a regular basis, but I think a lot of other people are also suffering unnecessarily with problems that are not caused by threadworms, and are being misled by a lot of false information out there (e.g. 'once you get them you never get rid of them').

  • Posted

    Hello! Thank you for your post- it is very reassuring! I too have read all the horror stories online and feel overwhelmed and scared. Can i ask you, when you thought you had got the threadworms again after staying at your bf's parents did you see evidence of the worms or was it just the tickly sensation? Both my girls have got threadworms at the mo and i treated us all with ovex straight away. My eldest girl has had them on and off for a few years but it has been a year since the last episode. She gets terrible pain as the worms travel to her front rather than staying around the bottom. I have washed all bedding, towels, nightwear and underwear everyday for 3 days and we all shower every morning. Handwashing is also extreme to say the least and my skin is raw. My youngest doesn't get any symptoms and it was only because i checked that i saw a worm. My husband and i have not spotted a worm but i get the tickly sensation through the day and evening but i think maybe it is overly cleaning down there and being paranoid that is the issue?!? I plan on repeating the ovex every 2 weeks for 6 or 8 weeks. Do you think that is safe and a sensible approach? I was also considering taking the ovex twice a year as a preventative treatment as both girls may be reinfecting themselves at school. As my eldest has had them quite a few times i was wondering if they are truly going away at all? It was about a year since last episode though and when she has them she is very vocal! Do you think i need to continue washing bedding everyday or can i just do towels, underwear and sleepwear everyday and bedding every 3-7 days? obviously continuing the morning showers and scrupulous handwashing...

  • Posted

    Thanks so much for your post. I have been dealing with the exact same issue for YEARS. I actually bought a microscope to do my own tape tests but have been unable to find evidence of the eggs or worms. I have treated myself repeatedly with pyrantel, albendazole, piperazine hexahydrate, and ivermectin.

    What confounds the issue is that I did get relief from the crawling and itching with an initial course of pyrantel many years ago, and by using piperazine (an older medication for pinworm). The crawling sensation drives me insane, as does the itching. As with you, I have repeatedly amended my theory to account for the symptoms. To accommodate the notion that I still have pinworm after repeated treatments, I have assumed that the above medications are not one hundred percent efficacious, and that in not ridding myself of them entirely after a treatment, the remaining pinworms have become drug resistant. I have had an absurd number of tape tests come back negative.

    And I have also been using soap and scrubbing vigorously in order to remove potential eggs and to deal with the itching. Although it has occurred to me that my scrubbing with soap might play a part, I haven't considered the idea that this might cause that infernal tickling sensation. That's been the deal breaker for me when it comes to the idea that there might be another explanation: the tickling sensation. My reasoning has been that nothing other than a live organism could cause a sensation of movement. But your post does give me some hope. I'll give it a shot.

  • Edited

    I am so glad I found this thread right now!

    I had the tickling anus sensation a few months back so when I did some online research the answer I got was pinworms. So I ordered the typical pills to treat threadworms and pinworms, cleaned all bedding and washed certain worn clothing to be safe and after that the sensation went. A few months later I get the sensation again so I re-ordered the medicine and washed everything I could get my hands on, but I'm not sure if it's my mind playing tricks on me. I live with my sister and we are very close, we share clothes and sit on each others beds to watch movies, so surely she would've caught the supposed "worms" right? Well I asked and she had no symptons whatsoever and thought I was crazy, I mean we washed everything and she took the medicine just in case but I thought that was odd? Also my boyfriend has never had an issue, no symptons either and we are intimate and share a bed twice a week? So I am wondering if I too am experiencing discomfort from cleaning too much? And is it possible I never even had worms in the first place? I have never found any evidence of any worms on my underwear, in bed or in my stool at all, I even looked at my anus with a flash light and nothing?!

    • Posted

      I'm having the same experience. I hope the excessive washing is the problem.

  • Posted

    I am going through the same thing. It is out of no where feelings and its not the same as pinworms. Im pretty sure it is just phantom of being paranoid about being clean and not getting them again. i will take your advice and not wash so excessively.

    • Posted

      It's definitely not phantom. The feeling wakes me in the night. It's horrendous. Also there in the day, which isn't supposed to happen with worms.

  • Posted

    Thanks so much for posting this. I was diagnosed with parasites a few weeks ago and given the medication. After finishing it, 2 days later, the crawling feeling came back. Around the vaginal area as well. Over the days, and nights it got worse and worse. Nothing to see. There never was anything to see. I was diagnosed by the Dr feeling my stomach not from a stool test. I wasn't given a 2nd dose and I bought a bottle of trilombrin and took that. Same thing. Wriggling continued. So I set about changing my diet and began to take oregano oil, clove oil, aloe vera, castor oil and garlic, raw and dried. Showers 5 times a day. Teatree oil poured everywhere. I felt half dead and still the wriggling. Still nothing to see. I am having acupuncture and considering colonic irrigation. But now I've read two accounts that say it could be the washing. So I've stopped using soap from today, and am using a 0.25% hydrocortisone cream. I'll try that for a couple of days. If it doesn't work I'll try

    Canestan. BTW I've been taking a good pre and probiotic throughout.

    So thanks so much for posting. If I hadn't read this it would have been hard to believe that this sensation could be caused by anything other than worms!

  • Posted

    thank you so much for posting this. I got worms about a month ago and have taken so much Ovex that i really dont undestand how I can have any worms left! I havent seen any sign of them for about 2 weeks now- despite checking poo and my hands are bleeding from constant washing. I can feel the wriggling sensation at times during day and sporadically from 5pm onwards. Can that weird feeling really not be worms?! I sincerely hope so! Thank you again

  • Posted

    Hi. Itchy bottom can be symptom of allergy. Check your IgE (Immunoglobulin E) analysis result. I thought that I have threadwroms for years, but it turned out to be allergy.

  • Posted

    Hi. Itchy bottom can be symptom of allergy. Check your IgE (Immunoglobulin E) analysis result. I thought that I have threadwroms for years, but it turned out to be allergy for feces or slime from intestines(also I have never seen any worms in my feces), also I can use toilet paper to make itch gone. Now I do exercises to strengthen the anus, so there will be less feces and slime on my bottom. Also my eosinophils analyse was ok

  • Posted

    I know this is an old post but hopefully someone will still be able to help. We have had threadworm since August. We were told to split doses so we took more than one a week (don't do it) we have been on albendazole mebendazole vermox ovex and pyrantel pamoate. I have had the tickling feeling morning and night the same as my daughter. My boys have been treated along side us now symptom free. I would like to believe its phantom unfortunately the vaginal discharge and pain we have had is proving otherwise. We went to see a parasite professional who said to take albendazole every week for 12 weeks. This is unfortunately has not helped. I'm sharing this to highlight a couple of things ONE never split doses TWO you know your own body if you only have the tickling sensation then I agree it could be phantom. THREE don't believe all what you read on the Internet I did and I will never do it again

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