Don’t freak out. Don’t get grossed. Don’t go and wash your face after reading this, because it won’t even work.
Before you go ahead, just understand that the human body is a walking ecosystem. You are a biological environment, so inside your body, there are different types of microscopic organisms. And on your face, oh dear … there are microscopic mites.
They’re known simply as Demodex mites (the full biological name is Demodex folliculorum). They have eight legs and are related to spiders and ticks. They live on your skin but are more abundant in number on your face.
Just like the thousands of bacteria in your digestive system and the other parts of your body, their presence does not mean there’s something wrong with you. In fact these microscopic mites are quite harmless and appear to represent the norm rather than a health complication.
It is said that about 99% of adult humans have them. The prevalence rate is a little lower among teenagers and far lower still, for children. But the fact remains that you could be carrying more than 1 million of them on your skin right now.
Demodex mites live a very simple life. During the day, they usually hide in the hair follicles of the skin: the base of the skin hairs which is located inside the skin, under the surface. At night when we’re sleeping, they slowly crawl out of the hair follicle to the surface of the skin to mate, moving at the slow speed of only a few millimetres per hour.
It’s still quite a mystery how the mites know it’s night time and we’re sleeping, but they’re able to tell and avoid the upper surface of the skin during daytime. It is also not very certain what these mites live on. Scientists speculate that they eat dead skin cells, bacteria or sebum: the oil produced naturally by your skin.
But like the human body, these creatures are a mystery in their entirety, spending most of their lives on the human skin and our faces when most of us are totally unaware of their presence.