What if I eat my excrement repeatedly

Worm diseases

What are worm diseases?

The child often scratches their buttocks and small white worms are visible in the feces: not particularly appetizing, but usually a worm infestation in children is harmless.

Mostly it is an infection with pinworms (oxyurs), which cause severe itching of the anus. Especially at night, because that's when the female pinworm lays its eggs on the child's anus.

Roundworms or tapeworms have other symptoms: the child generally feels unwell, has stomach pain, loses appetite and weight, or in some cases also has cravings. Roundworms are rare. They migrate from the intestine via the liver and lungs back into the intestine and only then develop into mature roundworms. Children are relatively rarely infected with tapeworms from raw or insufficiently fried meat or from stroking infected animals, which can grow in the small intestine of the child and can reach a length of 10 meters.


Children become infected with worm eggs or worm larvae through the consumption of contaminated food and water, contaminated objects or dirty fingers that are put into their mouths. These are swallowed and develop into worms in the digestive tract. Then the females of certain types of worms (e.g. pinworms) go to the anus and lay their eggs there. It itches and the child scratches their hands. When scratching, it picks up the worms with its fingernails, then touches its mouth again at the next opportunity. This is how these young worms get back into the child's gastrointestinal tract. This permanent repeated infection (reinfection) maintains the worm infestation. The medical term for this transmission route is anal-oral, i.e. from the anus to the mouth.

Symptoms & clinical picture

Is a child of Pinworms affected, the symptoms show up as:

  • severe itching of the anus, the child scratches his buttocks frequently
  • small white worms are often visible in the feces (2-3 mm long)

Is it an infestation with Roundworms or tapeworms, shows the child:

  • general malaise
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite, but in some cases also cravings
  • stomach pain
  • occasionally, dishworms 20 to 40 cm long are visible in the feces
  • Occasionally 2 cm long egg-bearing worm sections (proglottids) can be seen in the feces of tapeworms.


The accumulation of many worms can, in rare cases, lead to a life-threatening intestinal obstruction.


If a worm infestation is suspected, the child should be examined immediately by the pediatrician. The doctor will review several stool samples. A so-called "Tesa smear preparation", in which a Tesa strip is stuck to the skin of the anus, provides information under the microscope about any worm eggs that may be present is administered in the form of tablets or juice. As a rule, the worming cure has to be repeated after a few days. Drug therapy is only effective if hygienic measures, such as frequent hand washing, especially before eating, are strictly observed.

Important NOTE

If a child is infected with worms, worming is also recommended for other family members. The easy transmission routes mean that worms can quickly pass from one family member to another.


So that a child does not become infected with worms, various preventive measures already help:
Children should do theirs several times a day, especially before meals and after a bowel movement wash your hands

  • Fruits, vegetables and lettuce should be washed thoroughly before consumption
  • Toys that are used outside the home (e.g. on the playground) should be washed regularly in the dishwasher or with hot detergent
  • Pets should be dewormed regularly.

Author: äin-red

Technical support: Prof. Dr. Hans-Jürgen Nentwich

last change: 01.08.2018