Children -- you might think of them as adorable delights or as expensive germ factories. But did you know that they also play a major role in the life cycle of certain parasites?
Kristen Bell, the delightful star of The Good Place and Veronica Mars, knows this. Because as she tells Joel McHale on his Netflix show, she had a nasty infestation of anal worms.
And, as she explains in the video below, she got them from her kids.
Kristen Bell, the beloved actress who is also a mom, segues from a joke into an important lesson while speaking on Joel McHale's Netflix show.
"I did have anal worms two weeks ago."
Yes, that's a real thing. It's not a sex toy or the world's worst gummy snack.
“I swear to God. They’re called pinworms."
That should be a familiar name for many parents in the developed world. Kristen describes how she dealt with them.
"You take a chalky substitute -- you take an over the counter ..."
As naturally happens in conversations, she's cut off before explaining that people take a simple over the counter compound, either albendazole or mebendazole.
(It's not really chalky -- more like cardboard mixed with sawdust? I never had the worms but i did take the pills as a preventative measure as a child. It's not a taste that one forgets)
"My kids have them. You never got them, when your kids were ... ?"
He apparently did not, but asks Kristen if they were painful (as many parasites can cause pain).
"No but it was very itchy."
Symptoms generally include anal itching. And exposure to this parasite can be a natural product of being a parent.
"But your kids get 'em, and ... I'm not here to talk about pinworms but I will."
She says that it sometimes goes unnoticed in adults.
"50% of people over 15 don't experience symptoms. Which is the itch."
"Your kids get them because they put their hands in their mouth and they lay eggs."
That is horrifying on multiple levels.
(Note, children who are very particular about cleanliness or tactile sensations may be less likely to get pinworms)
Kristen talks like an expert because learned about all of this the hard way.
"And I noticed at our preschool, all of the carpets were gone. And I was like 'this is an interesting development; where are the carpets?'"
That's a great question.
"And they were like, 'oh, we're having them cleaned.' And I was like, 'okay, why?'"
Also a great question.
"And they said, 'oh, we had a pinworm case.' And I of course immediately googled it."
Kristen Bell educated herself not a moment too soon.
"And it's like so, so contagious. And I noticed that my three-year-old was [scratching her butt] for like a week."
The eggs actually incubate for weeks, making the pinworms extra difficult to eradicate. Also, the medication only kills adult worms -- not the eggs. So you're often looking at multiple doses.
"You have to monitor it and look in their poop and when you wipe their butt."
This is how you determine if they actually have pinworms.
“Sure enough I wiped and saw a little white worm."
Well, that's all gross, and I think that I'll just wear a HAZMAT suit the next time that I go to any place that children frequent.
The good news, at least, is that pinworms are only transferred through humans!