Yep, you have mites living on your face. And in this episode of Gross Science, Anna Rothschild explains how they’re eating, laying eggs, dying, and leaking feces. On your face. But don’t worry because we’ve known this since 1841 and it appears to be completely normal? From the

Megan Thoemmes of North Carolina State University in Raleigh and her colleagues found, as had previous studies, that about 14% of people had visible mites. But they also found Demodex DNA on every single face they tested. That suggests we all have them, and probably in quite large numbers. “It’s hard to speculate or quantify but a low population would be maybe in the hundreds,” says Thoemmes. “A high mite population would be thousands.” Put another way, you may have around two mites per eyelash.

It’s still not clear what sort of relationship we have with our Demodex mites. We can be sure they are not parasites, which take things from us and cause harm in the process. The relationship might instead be commensal, meaning that they do take something from us but not in a way that normally causes harm. For most people, most of the time, they’re harmless. They may even be beneficial. For instance, they may clear dead skin off our faces or eat harmful skin bacteria.

How possibly helpful! Let’s take a close look at a forehead mite, shall we?

Watch more videos about skin, learn how to find microscopic water bears, and enjoy another Gross Science episode: Carnivorous Plants and Killer Ants.

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