Meet your face mites!

"Everything you never wanted to know about the mites that eat, crawl, and have sex on your face". How can you say, "No", to that headline?

Ed Yong has a great post up today at Not Exactly Rocket Science about Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis, two species of mites which spend their entire lives on human skin. Humans aren't born with these mites. But by the time you are 40 years old, it's almost guaranteed that you are playing host to a few of them.

The bad news: They are having sex on your face.

Their favourite hook-up spots are the rims of your hair follicles. After sex, the female buries into the follicle (if it’s D.folliculorum), or into a nearby sebaceous gland (if it’s D.brevis). Half a day later, she lays her eggs. Two and a half days later, they hatch. The young mites take six days to reach adulthood, and they live for around five more. Their entire lives play out over the course of two weeks.

The good news: They don't poop—in fact, they don't even have an anus.

The bad news again: All that waste just builds up in their bodies. Demodex are, by nature, chronically constipated. Only after they die, and their bodies disintegrate, do they finally get to let it all go. All over your face.

Read the rest of Ed Yong's piece


    1. Right – otherwise you may end up coming back as one of the 10^14 bacteria living in your tummy and penis and coo. 

      Which of course are all busy having sex with each other.

  1. I’m usually all in favor of knowledge for its own sake, but I really did not need this information in my brain.

  2. “They are having sex on your face”
    Am I the only one that thinks this is kinda hot?
    “…they don’t even have an anus.”
    Well this is disappointing.

  3. After the two mites finish having sex upon the scientist’s face, they decide to have a snack. As they lazily munch away, one turns to the other and asks, “So what are you eating?”
    The other mite replies, “Nutting, honey.”

  4. I commented at length about my own experience treating my “acne” as a demodex problem under the previous post on acne:

    “Demodex Solutions” is working for me. Google it.

    I didn’t have a microscope to check for mites first, but their treatments are healing my skin regardless. See before (march 15, 2012) and current image attached. Slowly but significantly improving…

  5. oh gawd-damnit    thank you for contributing even MORE  to my OCD issues.     I need to go wash my face,  but I am at work, and the sinks are not as clean as I would like….      CRAP CRAP CRAP

  6. As long as they don’t cause allergic reactions, they’re welcome to live their two weeks on my face for many generations.

  7. I am so sick of  HD photos of microscopic alien bugs from hell. It makes me itchy every damn time I see one. Giant telescopes show us awe inspiring gaseous nebulae while electron microscopes make us gasp in effing horror. 

  8. I have a feeling that as a kid Maggie Koerth-Baker would say to the kid next to her at lunch time “wanna see something gross?” and then excrete chewed-up egg salad sandwich through her teeth. Just a hunch.

  9. Holy crap, they are big enough to see with a magnifier (0.1 to 0.4 mm).  Wikipedia has quite a bit more:

    The entire life cycle of D. folliculorum takes places in the time span of 18–24 days on its host.[4] Females have a ventral vulva anus opening, and males have a well-developed penis located between the first and second legs. A female adult lays 20-24 eggs in a single hair follicle, as they grow they become tightly packed, and develops into larvae.[4] During the day, they remain feeding within the follicle. Later at night, they emerge onto the surface of the mate and eggs are laid into the hair follicles. The larva is then washed by a sebaceous flow, produced by the host’s sebaceous glands, into the mouth of the hair follicle where the egg matures into an adult.[4] It takes seven days for the larva to develop into an adult that is ready to reproduce sexually.[9] 

  10. That “forgot to give it a butthole,  so I’ll just let it die in a poop-expolosion” thing must be kind of interesting for the intelligent design folks.

  11. There’s an episode of That’s Incredible! from my childhood that had a story about mites or something that live on your eyebrows (or eyelids?) that really did a number on me for years. I still think about it when I’m aggressively washing my face in the shower.  I tried finding the clip online but could not.

  12. When I was a child I was absolutely fascinated by the idea of tiny life forms living in my eyebrows.  I am not sure what made me think about it so often, but I definitely remember being very aware of the idea (maybe I also saw the episode that Rick. mentioned above?). 

    In any case, I was so excited to see the tile of this post and to finally feel justified in all of my odd childhood awe.

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