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The medications used for the treatment of pinworm are mebendazole, pyrantel pamoate, or albendazole. Any of these drugs are given in one dose initially, and then another single dose two weeks later. Pyrantel pamoate is available without prescription. The second dose of medication is to eliminate possible re-infection since the first dose of medication. Health practitioners and parents should weigh the health risks and benefits of these drugs for patients under 2 years of age.

The safety of drugs used to treat pinworm have not been studied for pregnant women. If the infection is compromising the pregnancy (i.e. weight loss, sleeplessness) then treatment can be considered, but should be withheld until the 3rd trimester when the risk, if any, to the fetus is likely to be reduced. Breastfeeding should not be withheld during mebendazole therapy. Only about 2%-10% of an oral dose is absorbed and as expected, the amounts of the drug excreted in milk are below the level of detection and appear to be clinically insignificant. Excretion in breast milk of the other drugs used to treat pinworm is not as well characterized.

Mebendazole

Oral mebendazole is available for human use in the United States

Note on Treatment in Pregnancy

Mebendazole is in pregnancy category C. Data on the use of mebendazole in pregnant women are limited. The available evidence suggests no difference in congenital anomalies in the children of women who were treated with mebendazole during mass treatment programs compared with those who were not. In mass treatment programs for which the World Health Organization (WHO) has determined that the benefit of treatment outweighs the risk, WHO allows use of mebendazole in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy. The risk of treatment in pregnant women who are known to have an infection needs to be balanced with the risk of disease progression in the absence of treatment.

Pregnancy Category C: Either studies in animals have revealed adverse effects on the fetus (teratogenic or embryocidal, or other) and there are no controlled studies in women or studies in women and animals are not available. Drugs should be given only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Note on Treatment During Lactation

It is not known whether mebendazole is excreted in breast milk. The WHO classifies mebendazole as compatible with breastfeeding and allows the use of mebendazole in lactating women.

Note on Treatment in Pediatric Patients

The safety of mebendazole in children has not been established. There is limited data in children age 2 years and younger. Mebendazole is listed as an intestinal antihelminthic medicine on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines for Children, intended for the use of children up to 12 years of age.

Pyrantel Pamoate

Pyrantel pamoate is available for human use in the United States.

Note on Treatment in Pregnancy

Pyrantel pamoate is in pregnancy category C. Data on the use of pyrantel pamoate in pregnant women are limited. In mass treatment programs for which the World Health Organization (WHO) has determined that the benefit of treatment outweighs the risk, WHO allows use of pyrantel pamoate in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy, acknowledging that the effects of pyrantel on birth outcome are not certain. The risk of treatment in pregnant women who are known to have an infection needs to be balanced with the risk of disease progression in the absence of treatment.

Pregnancy Category C: Either studies in animals have revealed adverse effects on the fetus (teratogenic or embryocidal, or other) and there are no controlled studies in women or studies in women and animals are not available. Drugs should be given only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Note on Treatment During Lactation

It is not known whether pyrantel pamoate is excreted in breast milk. The WHO classifies pyrantel pamoate as compatible with breastfeeding, although data on the use of pyrantel pamoate during lactation are limited.

Note on Treatment in Pediatric Patients

The safety of pyrantel pamoate in children has not been established. According to WHO guidance on preventive chemotherapy, pyrantel may be used in children age 1 year and older during mass treatment programs without diagnosis. Pyrantel pamoate is listed as an intestinal antihelminthic medicine on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines for Children, intended for the use of children up to 12 years of age.

Albendazole

Oral albendazole is available for human use in the United States.

Note on Treatment in Pregnancy

Albendazole is pregnancy category C. Data on the use of albendazole in pregnant women are limited, though the available evidence suggests no difference in congenital abnormalities in the children of women who were accidentally treated with albendazole during mass prevention campaigns compared with those who were not. In mass prevention campaigns for which the World Health Organization (WHO) has determined that the benefit of treatment outweighs the risk, WHO allows use of albendazole in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy. However, the risk of treatment in pregnant women who are known to have an infection needs to be balanced with the risk of disease progression in the absence of treatment.

Pregnancy Category C: Either studies in animals have revealed adverse effects on the fetus (teratogenic or embryocidal, or other) and there are no controlled studies in women or studies in women and animals are not available. Drugs should be given only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Note on Treatment During Lactation

It is not known whether albendazole is excreted in human milk. Albendazole should be used with caution in breastfeeding women.

Note on Treatment in Pediatric Patients

The safety of albendazole in children less than 6 years old is not certain. Studies of the use of albendazole in children as young as one year old suggest that its use is safe. According to WHO guidelines for mass prevention campaigns, albendazole can be used in children as young as 1 year old. Many children less than 6 years old have been treated in these campaigns with albendazole, albeit at a reduced dose.

 
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  • Page last reviewed: January 10, 2013
  • Page last updated: January 10, 2013
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