Itchy bottom? It could be worms!


Worms are the first thing we think of when a child has an itchy bottom!  Threadworms, also known as pinworms, are the most common worm infection in Australia.  Infection is common.  Anyone can get worms though it is usually small children who get infected and this is probably because they are more likely to put their fingers in their mouths.


Worm infection

Infection occurs when threadworm eggs are swallowed or breathed in.  This usually occurs when eggs come in to contact with hands that then go near the mouth.  Sometimes eggs can be picked up from food, clothing or other items.

The eggs travel from the mouth to the gastrointestinal tract where it takes about 4-8 weeks for them to hatch and grow in to mature worms.  The female worm travels down to the anus where she lays thousands of eggs and then dies.  This seems to happen at night hence the itchy bottom at night time.  Children often reinfect themselves by scratching and catching eggs under their fingernails which can be transferred to the mouth again or other items.  The eggs can survive about 2-3 weeks on objects where other people can catch them.


Symptoms/detecting worms

  • Itchy bottom, especially at night
  • Not feeling hungry
  • Feeling a bit unwell or irritable
  • Worms may be seen moving in faeces or around the anus. They look like thick white cotton and are about 0.5-1.5cm long
  • The best time to check the bottom of a child you think may have worms is at night in the first hour after they have gone to sleep. Grab a torch and have a look!
  • Pressing a piece of sticky tape to the anus first thing in the morning can sometimes catch some eggs

If anyone experiences severe symptoms seek medical advice.



Anyone over 2 years of age who is not pregnant or breastfeeding needs to have only one tablet or chocolate square treatment.  It is a good idea to treat everyone in the house and do it at the same time and then treat again two weeks later.  This is because the treatment only kills the worms and not eggs so more can hatch over those two weeks.  There is a treatment available for 1-2 year olds.  Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not treat themselves just in case and should discuss with their Pharmacist or Doctor if they have worms.


To prevent reinfection

  • Wash towels, sheets and pyjamas with hot water to kill eggs
  • Don’t share towels
  • Clean children’s fingernails and keep them short
  • Vacuum and wipe down furniture
  • Make sure everyone washes their hands well after toileting and before eating


Do people get worms from animals?

People can not catch threadworms from animals.  Other worms such as hookworms and tapeworms can be passed from animals to humans but this is not common in Australia.

What are Probiotics and Prebiotics used for?

probiotics and prebiotics

Probiotics and Prebiotics


Probiotics are living microorganisms made up of “good bacteria” and yeasts.  They are beneficial for our bodies when present in adequate amounts because they help our gut perform the functions it needs to.



Prebiotics are foods intended to provide a good diet for the microorganisms in our gut.  Prebiotics are not digested by us but are broken down (otherwise known as fermented) by the microorganisms in out gut


Examples of sources of probiotics and prebiotics include supplements, some cheeses, yoghurt with live cultures, kombucha, kimchi, kefir, miso and fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut.


What are probiotics used for?

It is claimed that probiotics can help with a number of conditions. Without evidence from clinical trials to support all these claims I will discuss the conditions where they have been proven to help and will look in to new uses for a future post.

  • Traveller’s diarrhoea
  • Antibiotic-associated diarrhoea
  • Acute infectious diarrhoea
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (Ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease)


For all uses of probiotics the particular type used is very important.  The most common types are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium and there are many strains of each of these types.  Ask your Pharmacist or Naturopath for a product containing the strains that are beneficial for what you want it for.  Taking the wrong strain would be like asking your accountant to cut your hair.  It just wouldn’t be helpful.

Strength is another important factor.  Products like Yakult do not contain enough probiotic to be useful.  Generally products need to contain at least 10 billion CFU’s to be helpful.


Traveller’s diarrhoea

This usually clears up after a few days and is commonly caused by eat/drinking something dodgy.  Good hygiene can often prevent this condition.

There is evidence that probiotics can prevent this condition more so than treat it once you have it.  If you are travelling taking a room temperature stable probiotic could help prevent this.


Antibiotic-associated diarrhoea

Taking a probiotic when using an antibiotic is only really recommended in people who have suffered with diarrhoea with antibiotics in the past or in frail, elderly people and maybe children.

As antibiotics kill the bad bacteria that we want them to kill as well as our good bacteria it may prove to be a good idea for people who suffer with gastrointestinal issues to also take a probiotic when taking antibiotics.

Probiotics for this use should be taken three hours away from antibiotics so that they are not killed by the antibiotic.


Acute infectious diarrhoea

People at risk of developing this would be wise to take a probiotic to help prevent it.  Those at risk include the elderly, those undergoing chemotherapy and those with many medical conditions.


IBS, Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease

These conditions need to be diagnosed by a Doctor.  Probiotics are helpful for those who suffer more with diarrhoea predominant symptoms.  Once again the right strains need to be used.


Probiotics for general health

The jury is still out on this however there is growing evidence showing that if our gut is healthy then other aspects of our overall health are improved.  This is an area that I am keen to keep an eye on and will talk about more soon.

Do something today that your future self will thank you for


I have spent a long time wanting to do something different with the knowledge I have accrued over 16 years as a Pharmacist and in life in general.  When I came up with the idea for Healthful Wisdom I was, and still am, really excited about it.  I honestly love helping people with their health.  Each day when I suggest simple changes or new things to help people I feel genuinely satisfied.  Even more so when they come back to the pharmacy to say thank you and share their progress or tell me their issue is resolved.


I thought it was coincidental that Healthful Wisdom and the relaunch of my own health occurred at about the same time.  I realise now that it’s because this is the year of ME!


I have spent many years working really hard to feed and keep a roof over the heads of myself and my two children.  Turning 39 this year has shaken me up in a positive way.  I didn’t want to finish this year not having achieved anything different to last year.


In April I packed my children in to a camper van and travelled 6000 km’s through QLD, NT and SA.  We loved it and didn’t want to stop!  I’m proud of myself for doing this as a single mum and we have great memories and future trips planned.


Thanks to starting with a Personal Trainer a month ago I will finish this year with a body that’s better than I’ve ever had and one that will be even better come next August and turning 40 time.


We will finish this year in our brand new home that I’ve worked really hard to pay for myself.  It won’t be totally finished but it will be one day soon and it’s all ours.


I will finish the year with Healthful Wisdom on its way to something awesome.  A break from my regular job this month will kick that in to gear.


Overall this has been, and will continue to be as a quarter of the year remains, the year that I’ve achieved more than ever before.


I feel good most days about myself and my journey.  I’m proud of myself and my children.  I don’t focus on the past or the future but focus on the present.  Some days the thought of working out the week’s schedule is just too much!  I am a much more relaxed and yet ambitious person than I was five years ago.


Thank you to everyone for sharing and being part of this journey with me.


PS the photo is of some macaroon candles Tahnee and I made during our girls day yesterday.

Should I take my medicine with food or not?

medicines and food

To eat or not to eat


Should you take your medicine with food or not?  This is quite a complex topic and the answer really depends on the medication and the type of meal.  Generally taking a medication with food means it will take longer to work and may be less effective.  With some medications it does not make a big difference however with others there are strict guidelines around when to take it in relation to food.  If there is a medication that you take regularly be consistent with the timing of it with food.


Taking a medication away from food is generally classified as taking it one hour before or two hours after food.


Reasons some medicines should be taken with or after food

  • So they are absorbed in to the blood stream properly. Some medicines need food in the stomach and gastrointestinal tract so that they can be absorbed properly.
  • To minimise nausea and vomiting. Medications that can cause these symptoms are less likely to cause them if there is food in the stomach.
  • To minimise stomach irritation. Some foods can irritate the lining of the gastrointestinal tract and in severe cases cause ulcers.  Even having a biscuit or glass of milk can help prevent irritation.  This is why aspirin and related anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen and diclofenac are usually best taken with food.  It is not as big a deal as first thought but certainly regular users and those who find they have a sensitive stomach should have food first.
  • To help the body process the meal. Some medicines help with the processing of meals and so need to be taken with food.
  • To make sure the medicine is not washed away. Examples of this include mouthwashes and drops/gels for mouth infections.  They should be used after eating so that they don’t get washed away and can stay in the mouth as long as possible.


Reasons some medicines should be taken away from food

  • To make sure the medicine is processed and absorbed properly. Calcium in dairy products stops the absorption of iron and some antibiotics.  Thyroxine, to treat hypothyroidism, should be taken away from food so that it is absorbed properly.
  • To make sure the medicine breaks down properly in the intestines and liver. Grapefruit juice has such an unpredictable effect with a lot of medicines that it should not be consumed unless you are sure it is safe with your medicines.
  • Because the “food” acts in a similar way to the medicine. This is like having an overdose.  This is why alcohol should not be consumed with medications that cause sedation and caffeine should not be used with stimulating medicines.


Consumer Medicine Information leaflets are available for all prescription medications and these are the best place to look to see when you should take your medicine in relation to food.  Alternatively ask your Pharmacist what is best for your medicines.