These monsters are living on your face right now, and you don't have a clue!

May 07, 2018 lilit 0 Comments

There is a 100% chance these hideous creatures are crawling all over your face even as you are reading this article. Before you yelp in disgust and dash to the bathroom to scrub and exfoliate your skin off until it's squeaky clean, let us assure you that it's completely safe to have these little creatures living on your face.

These creatures, called face mites, thrive on our skin and feed off the epidermis layer, without causing much harm. Scientifically recognized as Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis, these are the two categories of mites that exist on the outer layer of the skin where they are provided with nutrition and shelter through the waste secretions of our skin.

Get to know your face mites

Type D. brevis is a short, stout mite that lives most of its life nuzzled deep inside a hair follicle sebum gland. On the other hand, D. folliculorum lives slightly on the surface of the hair follicle, sometimes coming out of its nest to crawl over your face to discover greener pastures (read: oily hair follicle pastures). They can also be found occasionally looking for another mite to mate with and lay eggs on the oiliest zones of your face. 

If you wish to know how many of them are actually on your face, here are the statistics you need to get a grip on. There is only one brevis mite per oily gland, and three to six folliculorum mites per hair follicle. Since you have more than 5 million hair follicles on your body, you can now estimate how many exist in reality.

These mites were first discovered on canines. Demodex Canis was first discovered in 1840 and were held responsible for causing mange in dogs. Augustus H. Tulk who was the first to discover and publish his findings of Demodex in dogs. Later in the year 1842, a Frenchman named Berger discovered Demodex folliculorum in earwax.

Living with face mites

The Dunn Lab at the North Carolina State University conducted the Belly Button Project where the research team first examined the bacteria found in the navel of the body.

Since then, hundreds of volunteers have stepped forward to get their bodies examined and the results have led to some astounding discoveries. About 20 percent of living people who had a non-invasive sampling of their face had living mites breeding on their faces, while on examination of corpses the number of face mites remained, more or less, the same.

100 percent of all the adults whose faces were examined had mite DNA collected from their skin, which says that every one of us has mites living on our faces. This can be easily detected after collecting it with tape or by gentle scraping—these are the two common techniques used by scientists to examine face mites since its early days of discovery and research.

As per research conducted under the Meet Your Mites project, a citizen science outreach initiative, mites collected from family groups were found to be similar in genetic formation and did not match with mites collected from faces that belonged to other non-related people. 

You'd be surprised to know that face mites carry the genetic signature of the place in which your family is from historically, regardless of where you live in currently. This suggests that not only do we get our mites from a close contact at a young age but also that our mite populations stay relatively stable throughout our lives and over the course of generations.

On a happier note, these mites aren't excreting on your face. Neither of the mite species has an anus. They just store up all the sh*t inside and take it with them until they die. But the bad news is that after death, their grip relaxes from the hair follicle and the poop finds it's way on the skin which is released onto the surface. Their DNA along with all the waste that the mites had, gets mixed with the oily layer of your skin, thus keeping your skin moisturized.

Don't be horrified—face mites are harmless

Barring aside a mild form of rosacea, these mites are completely harmless by nature. In reality, you should embrace the fact that our body is truly a wonderland and every part of our form plays an important role in forming the ecosystem that our body is in itself. The extensive research being conducted to examine and further investigate these tiny crawlers are helping scientists probe into the genetic relations between humans and these face mites. This can help us unravel the mysteries of human relations since the dawn of time.

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