Super tiny Demodex mites are living on your face right now, or more accurately inside your pores. This Deep Look episode from KQED introduces these arachnids, and an entomologist who studies them: California Academy of Sciences’ Michelle Trautwein “tested more than 2,000 people and found DNA evidence of face mites on every single one of them.”
Her findings suggest that people in different parts of the world have different face mites. “They tell a story of your own ancestry and also a story of more ancient human history and migration,” she says.
More background from Deep Look:
Pretty much every adult human alive has a population of these mites living on them.
Also called eyelash mites, they’re too small to see with the naked eye. They’re mostly transparent, and at about .3 millimeters long, it would take about five face adult mites laid end to end to stretch across the head of a pin.
Face mites spend their days face-down inside your hair follicles nestled up against the hair shaft.
They eat sebum, that greasy oil your skin makes to protect itself and keep it from drying out. That’s why the greasiest parts of your body — like around the eyes, nose and mouth — likely harbor a higher concentration of mites than other areas.
They live about two weeks. They spend most of their time tucked inside our pores. But while we’re sleeping, they crawl out onto the surface of our skin to mate before crawling back into our pores to lay their eggs. Fun!
Learn about more mites on this site, including Gross Science’s exploration of face mites. Plus: The Science of Skin and why do lice want to live in your hair?
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