Don’t look now, but your face might be home to a group of tiny creatures!
These organisms, called demodicids, or eyelash mites, live on the bodies of even the cleanest of people. Demodicids are tiny parasites that live in pores and hair follicles around the eyelashes. They feast on dead skin cells and oils that accumulate there. The parasites resemble semi-transparent worms, and have four pairs of short legs they can use to get around.
You might not have heard of them, but demodicids are extremely common in humans. Researchers estimate that a small number of mites live on the faces of most adults, and the infestation becomes more and more common with age. In fact, as many as 96% of elderly people are thought to carry these microscopic mites.
Although the presence of parasites on so many people might sound alarming, demodicids are harmless and don’t transmit diseases. In some people, usually those with extremely oily skin, or those who use cosmetics heavily, large numbers of mites can develop. This large population can cause an itchy skin condition called demodicosis. However this condition is quite rare, and most people will never even know about the tiny creatures sharing their personal space.
If you’re curious, you can easily discover if any demodicids reside on your face by looking at one of your eyelashes through a microscope. However, be forewarned–you just might find mites there!