the party on your face
Oh if only you knew.. every night you host a party you would rather not attend...
Meet the Demodex mite.
We happen to be so lucky that we may actually play host to two species of this tiny parasitic friend, the Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis, the first occupying our hair follicles, and the subsequent residing within our sebaceous glands.
In all seriousness, our entire bodies are host to their own ecosystem, rich in microorganisms that play critical roles in helping us maintain our health, this is known as 'mutualism' or living in 'symbiosis', in which both organisims, the human and the microorganism, benefit from each other.
Though mites may play a role in the clean up of our waste, feeding on our dead skin cells and sebum, they are generally classified as 'commensals', in that they benefit from us but offer no benefit to us.
However this is now a topic of hot dispute, with many leading skin authorities citing these mites as conditionally pathogenic, meaning, in the right environment with the right existing factors, these little dudes are downright dangerous.
Let me enlighten you on the potential of this little face hijacker,
Demodex are typically found on the face, neck and ears, with height of infestation occuring in the 20-30 year age group when sebum secretion is at it's peak. When present in high densities, the sheer number of mites combined with a potentially compromised immune system of the human host, appear to be a defining factors in triggering inflammation and skin disorder.
These cheeky parasites have a short lifespan in which they are most highly active at night, making love on our faces as we dream then burrowing back into our skin to lay their eggs. To add to the horror, is their lack of ability to go to the bathroom, upon death approximately two weeks of built up bodily waste liquefies with the decomposing body of the mite, potentially adding to inflammation.
Demodex have been linked to:
Androgenic alopecia (loss of hair)
Madarosis (loss of lashes)
While researchers report demodex mites are likely to be found on all adults, worldwide, there are simple things you can do each day to reduce the likelihood of over colonisation and the potential skin irritations this will effect,
Cleanse, morning and night, ensuring that you include your face, neck and decolletage.
Remove all eye make-up and ensure you cleanse the lashes to remove any oil-based solution.
If you generally have a good oil supply, ditch oil based skin care and make up products.
Exfoliate, this should be done periodically according to your skin needs, to remove dead skin cells.
Now we have that covered I will leave you with this little pearl from National Geographic "Are mites having sex on your face"
With thanks to the following sources,
Demodex | DermNet New Zealand. (2017). Dermnetnz.org. http://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/demodex/
Jarmuda, S., O'Reilly, N., Zaba, R., Jakubowicz, O., Szkaradkiewicz, A., & Kavanagh, K. (2012). Potential role of Demodex mites and bacteria in the induction of rosacea. Journal Of Medical Microbiology, 61(Pt_11), 1504-1510. http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/jmm.0.048090-0
Jarmuda, S., O'Reilly, N., Zaba, R., Jakubowicz, O., Szkaradkiewicz, A., & Kavanagh, K. (2017). Potential role of Demodex mites and bacteria in the induction of rosacea. http://jmm.microbiologyresearch.org/content/journal/jmm/10.1099/jmm.0.048090-0
Rather, P. & Hassan, I. (2017). Human Demodex Mite: The Versatile Mite of Dermatological Importance. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3884930/
Scharschmidt, T. & Fischbach, M. (2017). What lives on our skin: ecology, genomics and therapeutic opportunities of the skin microbiome. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3833721/