Transparent adhesive (cellophane) tape test for pinworms

A transparent adhesive (cellophane) tape test (sometimes called a “Scotch tape” test) refers to the collection and examination of a sample from the skin around the anus. This test is used to identify pinworms and pinworm eggs.

This test should be done first thing in the morning before the person suspected of the infection has gotten out of bed, used the bathroom, or taken a bath. To carry out the test:

  1. The parent applies the sticky side of a piece of transparent tape (such as Scotch tape) briefly to the skin around the child's anus. Any pinworms and/or eggs that are on the skin will stick to the tape.
  2. The doctor presses the sticky side of the tape to a microscope slide and uses a microscope to look for pinworms and/or pinworm eggs.

This is the best test for diagnosing pinworms. Pinworm eggs (when present) can be easily identified under the microscope by a trained professional. More than one transparent tape test may be needed to detect pinworm infection. Doing this test for 3 days in a row will successfully diagnose pinworms 90% of the time.1

The transparent tape test is a quick, cost-effective, and painless test. Samples may be collected at home early in the morning before bathing and taken to your doctor's office. Samples can also be taken at the doctor's office.

Citations

  1. Dent AE, Kazura JW (2007). Enterobiasis (Enterobius vermicularis). In RM Kliegman et al., eds., Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 18th ed., pp. 1500–1501. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.

Last Updated: September 11, 2008

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