What Are Face Mites?
Demodex are tiny mites that live in or near hair follicles on humans and dogs. Two species of the arachnids live on humans, specifically on the face, hence the term face mite. Demodex are also known as eyelash mites.
Each semi-transparent mite is about .4mm long - too tiny to be seen with the naked eye. 5 mites placed end to end can fit on the head of a pin.
They are mostly harmless and usually don't cause health problems for humans. But occasionally some skin diseases can be caused by the face mites.
KQED San Francisco aired a video series by PBS Digital Studios that describes face mites in all their skin crawling detail.
Can Face Mites Suck Blood?
Even though they belong to the arachnid family, face mites do not suck your blood. They are not leeches or ticks. As disgusting as they look, face mites actually perform a beneficial service for humans. They consume (eat) sebum, the greasy oil that builds up on the skin and inside the skin pores.
They have 8 tiny segmented legs and scales on their bodies to attach themselves to hair follicles. They prefer to hang out upside down on hair follicles around the eyes, nose and mouth where the highest concentration of sebum occurs.
Are Humans Born With Face Mites?
Humans are not born with face mites. The tiny creatures are transferred to babies from the mother through direct contact (such as cuddling or kissing).
The number of mites increase at the onset of puberty when the skin produces more oil. Face mites live about 2 weeks. They crawl out of skin pores at night to mate with each other, then they crawl back inside skin pores to lay their eggs.
Nearly all adults on earth are infested with face mites. Although they infest all races, they tend to prefer adolescents, teens and young adults with oily skin who don't wash their faces as often.
How Can I Get Rid of Face Mites?
Don't panic. There is usually no reason to get rid of face mites. They are harmless and they keep our faces nearly oil-free. They are virtually impossible to get rid of. Even if you found a way to get rid of most skin mites, they reproduce quickly. It only takes one mite to repopulate your skin in a couple of days. Face mites do not have an anus so they can't poop on your face - if that makes you feel any better.
Do Face Mites Cause Skin Rashes?
Some people experience an overproduction of face mites that can clog the pores and cause an inflammatory reaction. The rash is seen as small evenly-sized pimples that appear quickly around the eyes, nose and mouth. If you have an itchy rash on your eyelids, and around your eyes, nose and mouth, you should consult your dermatologist.
This has been your Medical Minute.
More Info On the Web
Meet The Mites That Live On Your Face | npr.org
These microscopic mites live on your face | BBC Earth
What is Demodex folliculorum? | Healthline
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