Thousands of microscopic mites live on your face – and they spread by hugging

There are thousands of species invisible to the naked eye inhabiting various environments in the world – and one in particular is drawn to human skin

demodex
The Demodex mite is microscopic – but it gets around

As we wind down for bed every night, it tends to be part of our routine to give our faces a good old scrub.

We’re busy people who travel around all day, exposed to all sorts of different environments that can leave us feeling a little bit grubby by the end of the day.

It’s nice to lay your head on the pillow feeling clean and fresh – but no matter how hard we scrub, there are a few little critters we’ll never fully shake off.

The demodex mite is a microscopic arachnid that lives on human skin – specifically, in our pores, surviving on the waxy sebum they produce, a BBC video shows.

There are two types of demodex, with one measuring slightly larger than the other – but the biggest they’ll ever grow is 0.4mm long, meaning they’re invisible to the human eye.







The mite lives for about 20 days in the pores of the skin
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Image:

Commons)

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At any given time, it’s estimated that 1.5-2.5 million of these little mites are living on our skin, while we also transfer them back and forth to each other.

As the demodex is adapted to live only on human skin, it’s likely we pick them up from our parents when we’re first born after skin-to-skin contact.

We will also get them from intimate partners, or anyone we might cuddle.

Although the thought of having millions of mites on our skin at any one time is somewhat toe-curling, there’s nothing to fear.

Demodex are completely harmless to us and they don’t hang around long, with an average lifespan of 20 days.

Although they don’t live for too long, demodex mites make their time count – mating with the opposite sex at the entrance of our pores and laying up to 24 eggs each time.

Overall, the mites get busy at night and come out while we’re asleep to lay their eggs.

While the demodex mites are known to hoover up dead skin cells, if too many burrow in one place it can lead to skin conditions such as rosacea.

But for the most part, the microscopic mites are completely harmless, meaning we can go about our days forgetting the little things even exist.

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