Right now, as you sit there reading this article, microscopic parasites are mating on your face, laying eggs in your pores, and feeding on your sebum. They’re called Demodex mites, and they make up just some of the trillions of microbes living on and in your body.
“There could be hundreds of thousands, or even millions in an individual person,” says Robb Dunn, biologist and writer at North Carolina State University. “We don’t really know.”What we do know is that pretty much everyone is crawling with them, and though they seem to be concentrated primarily on the face, the mites actually live all over your body. For the most part, they don’t seem to do any harm. However, the National Rosacea Society reports that rosacea sufferers tend to host bigger mite populations, and that the organisms are most concentrated in the regions of the face where rosacea flares up (the cheeks, nose, chin and forehead), indicating that the mites might have something to do with the condition.Thanks to the team of researchers at North Carolina State who have started Meet Your Mites, a project focused on studying these miniscule arthropods, we are able to learn about their life cycle and how they operate in tandem with the human body. For example: The little buggers are having sex on your skin. In fact, it’s thought to go a little something like this: Females come to the surface of the pore they’re living in, where they encounter a male roaming around on the surface searching for a mate. Then, they do the deed right at the opening of the pore.
After mating, the female heads back inside her chosen pore, where she lives out the rest of her approximately 14-day life that consists of laying eggs (yes, laying eggs in your pore) and feeding on your sebum.We’ll just let that sink in.Before you run home and start scrubbing your face raw so you can sleep peacefully tonight sans nightmares of loud, sloppy mite sex happening on your face, head to the Meet Your Mites website to learn more about the project and the researchers behind it. If you’re in the Raleigh-Durham area, you can even donate your sebum/face mites to a good scientific cause—and see some photos of your specific face mites, if you’ve got the stomach for it.