Hesperian Health Guides
Good Food Makes Good Health: Medicines
Medicines by themselves are not enough to get rid of worm infections for very long. Personal and public cleanliness is also necessary. Worm infections can spread easily among family members, so when one person has worms it is wise to treat the whole family too.
Mebendazole works against hookworm, whipworm, roundworm, and pinworm (threadworm). It may work against trichinosis, but is not the best medicine for this. Although side effects are not common, there may be some gut pain or diarrhea if the person is infected with a lot of worms.
Avoid mebendazole during the first 3 months of pregnancy when it can harm the developing baby. Do not give to children under 1 year old.
For roundworm (Ascaris), whipworm (Trichuris) and hookworm
give one 500 mg tablet one time only.
To prevent roundworm where this infection is common
Albendazole is similar to mebendazole, but often more expensive. It works against hookworm, whipworm, roundworm, pinworm, and trichinosis. Side effects are rare.
Avoid albendazole during the first 3 months of pregnancy when it can harm the developing baby. Do not give to children under 1 year old.
2 years to adult: give 400 mg one time. Repeat in 2 weeks if needed.
If there is pain or vision problems, also give a steroid, such as prednisolone, 40 to 60 mg, once a day for 10 to 15 days.
Pyrantel pamoate, pyrantel embonate
Pyrantel works for pinworm, hookworm, and roundworm (Ascaris), but it may be expensive. It occasionally causes vomiting, dizziness, or headache. Do not give it to someone also taking piperazine (another anti-worm medicine).
For hookworm and roundworm give one dose only.
For pinworm give one dose, wait 2 weeks, then give another dose.
Under 2 years: give 62 mg (¼ of a 250 mg tablet).
2 to 5 years: give 125 mg (½ of a 250 mg tablet).
6 to 9 years: give 250 mg (one 250 mg tablet).
10 to 14 years: give 500 mg (two 250 mg tablets).
Over 14 years: give 750 mg (three 250 mg tablets).
There are several types of tapeworm. Praziquantel or niclosamide both work for all types. If the tapeworm infection is in the brain or causes seizures, the person needs albendazole and anti-seizure medicines instead, and should get help.
Praziquantel may cause tiredness, dizziness, headache, loss of appetite, and nausea, but these side effects are rare at the low doses used to treat tapeworm.
4 to 7 years: give 150 mg (¼ tablet), one time only.
8 to 12 years: give 300 mg, one time only.
Over 12 years: give 600 mg, one time only.
4 to 7 years: give 300 to 600 mg (½ to 1 tablet) per dose.
8 to 12 years: give 600 to 1200 mg per dose.
Over 12 years: give 1500 mg per dose.
Niclosamide works against tapeworm in the gut, but not against cysts outside the gut.
Chew well and swallow the following doses. If a small child cannot yet chew, crush the tablet and mix with a little breast milk or food.
Under 2 years: give 500 mg, one time only.
2 to 6 years: give 1 gram (1000 mg), one time only.
Over 6 years: give 2 grams, one time only.