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Roundworm - Treating a roundworm infection

NHS Choices Medical Reference

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Roundworm infection can be successfully treated using one of a number of medicines.

The three main medicines are:

  • mebendazole
  • piperazine
  • albendazole

These are described below.

Mebendazole

Mebendazole is recommended for treating roundworm infections in adults and children over one year of age.

Mebendazole works by stopping the roundworms from using glucose (sugar). Without glucose, the cells of the roundworms lose their energy supply and quickly die.

A three-day course of mebendazole is usually recommended. This involves taking one tablet twice a day.

The most common side effect of mebendazole is stomach pain. Less common side effects include:

  • skin rash
  • diarrhoea
  • flatulence (excessive wind)

Piperazine

Piperazine is recommended for babies aged three to 11 months. It is available as a powder that you dissolve in water. Most children only require a single dose.

Side effects of piperazine can include:

  • abdominal (tummy) pain
  • nausea 
  • vomiting 
  • colic
  • diarrhoea

These side effects should quickly pass once the medicine works its way out of the body.

If your child is younger than three months of age, delaying treatment until they reach three months may be recommended.

Albendazole

Albendazole is commonly used in tropical countries, but is currently unlicensed for use in the UK.

This means that the manufacturer of the medicine has not applied for a license for albendazole to be used to treat roundworm in the UK. However, the medicine has been extensively studied in countries where roundworm is common and has been shown to be safe and effective.

Pregnancy

While there is no firm evidence that any of the medications above can cause birth defects, they are not usually recommended during pregnancy. Roundworms may occasionally cause troublesome symptoms, but they do not usually pose a threat to your unborn child.

Medical Review: August 11, 2012
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