Do Your Kids Have Buttworms?


Okay, okay. So they’re not actually called buttworms, they’re called pinworms. And, like lice, they’re actually very common. But luckily, unlike lice, they’re extremely easy to treat.

Guess what? CHICKEN BUTT!

The first time we dealt with buttworms in our house (yes, I’m using this term because it’s just more fun to say), I had NO IDEA what was happening. My daughter was 9 at the time and complained about her rear end itching. I looked for a rash or anything else I could see, but nope, nothing was there. For a few nights in a row, she couldn’t sleep because she was “so itchy.” Coincidentally, she had a check up already scheduled, so at the end of the appointment, I casually mentioned to our Ped that her “butt itched” {insert my eye roll here}. Well he surprised me by saying, “Oh, she probably has pinworms. Take a piece of scotch tape, and when she’s sleeping tonight, put the piece on her butt hole, and pull it off quickly. Tape it to a piece of white paper and bring it back in. We’ll let you know for sure and go from there.” Uhhhh…. do what? to where?

Well, since that day, over the next 4 years, we’ve had 3 more cases amongst our kids. So, I’ve learned a few fun facts about buttworms:

  1. Buttworms are extremely contagious. They spread when someone itches or touches their butt, transfers the worms to their fingers, then touches something else. The worms fall off and someone else picks them up. They’re clear/white-ish and as tiny as a pin head (hence where the real name comes from).
  2. You don’t need to do the whole scotch tape thing and drop at the doctor’s. You can actually take a flashlight, spread open your kid’s buttcheeks and you’ll SEE the teeny tiny worms writhing near the hole. If this grosses you out, have your spouse do it.
  3. They come out at night (so check only after they fall asleep). The females wiggle out of the butt hole when it’s quiet and dark and lay their eggs on the kid’s buttcheeks. Yeah, it just keeps getting grosser and grosser.
  4. They only seem to affect kids under 13.

I’ve also learned they’re (luckily!) extremely easy to treat:

You simply buy PINWORM medicine at your local drugstore or Kroger pharmacy. Sometimes it’s kept behind the counter, but you don’t need a prescription for it. One dose (based on the child’s weight) of the liquid medicine is given (it tastes like bananas!). Unfortunately, all kids in the household need treated equally. 1 bottle of medicine can treat approximately 2-3 kids, so for our house, we typically need 2 bottles. The medicine is $12 a bottle; so, for under $25, we can cure and prevent everyone.

medicine for buttworms
We’ve used the name-brand Reese’s and also the more generic pharmacy brands. They all work equally well.

Preventing Buttworms 101:

  1. In a pandemic, you’d think my kids would wash their hands even more than normal, but nope. They’re kids. Washing hands thoroughly prevents buttworms from showing up. So scrub scrub scrub — WITH SOAP — not hanitizer! (I mean, it shouldn’t have to be said, but clearly in my house I still have my work cut out. I’ve also emailed all my kids’ teachers asking for more hand washing time at school)
  2. Change underwear regularly. Again, shouldn’t have to be said, yet….
  3. Wash bedding often. And if you do get a kid that needs treated, wash their bedding on an extra hot/sanitary setting, along with their clothes and most recently worn underwear. I usually go ahead and wash everyone’s sheets to be safe.

So, in a nutshell, buttworms are gross and slightly inconvenient, but easy to deal with. And don’t be embarrassed to buy the medicine — it’s NOT a reflection of your household’s cleanliness. But man, who knew parenting would include treating worms? {Insert head shake.}

Here’s a really gross flow chart that explains it all!


I'm gonna go ahead and do the typical disclaimer that I am in no way, shape, or form a medical professional. So please, if you think your kids need to see a doctor, for the love, just take them to the doctor.
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Originally from near Pittsburgh PA, Lori moved to Memphis in 2009. She has a passion for working with special needs children as an ABA therapist and also teaches swim lessons out of her own pool each summer. Lori is married to Ryan, an archaeology professor at the U of M. Together they have five great kids; Ali (April 2007), Asher (Dec 2009), Kates (Oct 2012), Paige (April 2014) and Gwendolyn (July 2019). Lori loves Jesus, lattes and grocery shopping alone. She's not a fan of getting up early in the morning!