Worms are ugly, wriggly, squirmy creatures; but unlike the worms you see in the garden, the sorts of worms that cause an infection in humans are really tiny.
The most common type of worm to affect humans is the pinworm or threadworm. You catch pinworms by picking up their eggs. These tiny eggs can live for several weeks on all kinds of surfaces, such as tables, clothing or bedding, toilet or food.
Once you touch something that has egg worms on it, and then put your hand to your mouth, the eggs get into your body. They then hatch in your small intestine and move down into your bowel where they hang out and eat.
When they’re ready to lay eggs of their own, they take a trip further down south and lay eggs on the skin around the entrance to your bottom. This makes your bottom really itchy, which is usually the first sign of infection that people notice, although it takes about a month for it to get to this stage.
If you do have worms, your doctor or chemist can give you some medicine that kills the worms right away. Everyone in the family will need to take this medicine. You should also clean all bedding and pyjamas, and give the toilet and bathroom a good clean as well.
To keep yourself safe from worms in future, always wash your hands before eating and after using the toilet.
If you think you or your family might have worms, check with your doctor or Aboriginal Health Worker. Having worms doesn’t mean you’re dirty – it happens to everyone, especially young fellas who might not remember to wash their hands as often and are more likely to put things in their mouth.