What is the life cycle of a pinworm?


Quick Answer

Pinworms, or roundworms, have a four to eight-week life cycle in which they develop into adults, mate, lay eggs and die. Pinworms are human parasites that begin their life cycles as microscopic eggs that can live under fingernails, on the surface of the skin and on commonly used bathroom surfaces. Once ingested, the eggs travel into human intestines and hatch. A pinworm egg hatches in six hours and begins to grow rapidly.

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Full Answer

Human intestines offer pinworms an ideal place to grow and mature. These white, threadlike parasites travel into the lower bowel and feed on fecal material as they mature. A female pinworm lives up to a month in the human body before mating. After mating, the female pinworm crawls out of the human anus during the night and lays up to 10,000 eggs in the surrounding perianal folds of skin. The female dies after laying her eggs.

This activity causes the surrounding skin to itch. When scratched, human fingernails collect the eggs. If not washed properly, the host transfers the eggs into the mouth while eating. Pinworm eggs can become airborne and inhaled through the nose, and some of the hatched larvae crawl back through the anus into the lower bowel. The reintroduction of the larvae begins another life cycle.

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