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I've seen this circulating on social networks:
I was wondering to what extent is it true. Do skin mites really get on the skin surface to reproduce? Why is it so?
Yes, it is true that these mites exist on healthy human skin, on >98% of people, no matter the country or hygiene.
However, I'm sorry to say that this photograph is not the follicle mite Demodex folliculorum. This image has been widely circulated around the internet as Demodex, but it is actually the head of a silkworm, Bombyx mori. The above version has been modified slightly from the original, but you can see the original here: https://www.sciencephoto.com/media/720736/view/silkworm-head-sem
And here is a zoomed out version of a silkworm: https://macrocritters.wordpress.com/2012/11/26/photographing-down-the-food-web-silkworms-bombyx-mori/
You can find a real close-up of Demodex here: https://www.sciencesource.com/archive/Demodex-folliculorum-(SEM)-SS2367855.html
Not only do skin mites have sex on your face, but my suspicion is that -- quite often -- they're having INCEST on your face. (I.e., brothers inseminate their own sisters.) Admittedly, I'm not sure about the Demodex species that live on humans, but I know that among mites as a general group, there are various species that have evolved genetic mechanisms to make brother/sister mating less harmful than it would otherwise be.
And if you're a tiny, slow-moving creature that is unlikely to travel more than a few centimeters from the spot where you and your siblings hatched out, the odds of meeting an "unrelated" mite -- say, third cousin or farther -- are not very great. Most of your potential mates are likely to be genetically close kin; and sometimes, a sibling may be the only option. Beggars can't be choosers, any port in a storm, etc.
When you hear of dust mite bites, you should simply think of the allergy caused by the dust mites.
In most cases, the allergic reaction of your skin to dust mites is characterized by red itchy bumps that may be spread over a certain area of your skin.
If you suddenly feel an itch on your skin and then looking at it you find that your skin has turned red and you cannot spot any creature on your skin, it is likely that your skin is reacting to dust mites.
The way dust mite bites look like is similar to bites from many other creatures such as bed bugs.
To differentiate the bed bug bites from dust mite bites, you will need to keenly read the differences discussed later in this article.
3 Skin Mites That Will Raise Your Paranoia
Have you ever wondered why you sometimes feel a slight itchiness of your skin at night or any time of the day, despite the fact that a true skin parasite would always chose darkness instead of light? Well an itch is never an itch, according to sources that know all about who lives on our skin, how it lives there and how happy this guest is throughout his entire existence. So here you have 3 skin mites that will raise your paranoia!
Basically skin parasites drink blood or ear your skin. Thank God they cannot usually do both! They are so small that no one can see them. Some species are living under your skin, whereas many are just crawling on it. Some parasites can complete their whole life cycles in humans. But many live outside the body and return every time they are hungry. Skin parasites can live on the skin or under it as an egg, larva, nymph or plain adult stage.
Say Hello To the Dermodex Mite
Demodex mite is a human parasite found inside around the pilo-sebaceous units. Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis are the two types found on humans. Demodex infestation is usually asymptomatic and may cause problems only when present in high densities and because of immune imbalance as well. They usually cause a type of acne also known as Rosacea.
The most interesting thing about them is their lifestyle. These 8-legged creatures (an arachnid) ectoparasite (living on the surface of the host) crawl around the face at night, feeding from oil and skin cells. They have no anus, so they have to eventually explode inside your hair follicles, which are their home. They also reproduce on the face skin, during the night. The typical Demodex life cycle is usually 2 to 3 weeks. A female lays 15 to 20 eggs inside the hair follicle. The eggs develop into larvae, which eventually become an adult .The male Demodex mite will leave the follicle in search of a mate, while the adult female mite remains there waiting. These mites are capable of walking approximately 10 mm/h.
Human Scabies and the deadly itchiness
The Sarcoptes scabei attack the thin skin between the fingers, the bend of the elbow and knee, the penis, breasts, and the shoulder blades. The mites drill into the skin, making tunnels up to 0.1 inches long. After a while a rash appears in the area of the burrows and extremely intense itching is experienced. These mites are also small 8-legged parasites, just 1/3 millimeter long. They can only live off of a host body for 24-36 hours under most conditions. Transmission of the mites involves close person-to-person contact. Moreover sexual physical contact can also transmit the disease.
The female mite adheres to the skin using suckers on her legs and burrows into the skin, where she immediately lays her oval eggs. Afterwards they hatch into larvae and begin moving freely over the skin. Soon they turn into nymphs, reaching maturity 10 to 14 days after hatching.
The Screwworm is taking advantage of your open wounds
The Cochliomyia hominivorax is a horrible parasite. Its adult form resembles a common housefly. But the dreadful aspect of it all is the fact that the adult female fly spends her time seeking out hosts that have open wounds. The fly will lay hundreds of eggs along the edge of the wound. After several hours, the eggs hatch and larvae, called maggots, emerge. The maggots initially feed in the wounds but then invade healthy tissue, too. Screwworm maggots have toxic saliva, which promotes infection of wounds and production of foul-smelling pus. This attracts other species of flies that normally feed only on dead animals. The host animal becomes sick, stops eating, and dies unless treated.
These are just 3 of them. I’ll stop here, as sometimes it’s better to know less in order to avoid sheer paranoia. As far as mites and parasites are concerned, paranoia is likely to develop. They are just disgusting, aren’t they? So, ladies and gentlemen, start itching!
Do skin mites reproduce on human face during night? - Biology
Bird mites belong to a group of arthropods, which are morphologically very similar in appearance, yet have very different habits and ecologies. Failure to properly identify the mites to the species level can lead to incorrect treatments and non-control of the pest. Mites should be referred to an expert laboratory for proper identification, such as the Department of Medical Entomology, ICPMR.
"Bird mites", "Tropical fowl mites" or "Starling Mites" are the common names used to describe the mite Ornithonyssus bursa from the family of mites Macronyssidae. These mites are often incorrectly called 'bird lice', particularly within the pest control industry. Bird mites are most active during Spring and early Summer.
Ornithonyssus bursa is a small but extremely mobile mite, barely visible to the eye, with eight legs (except the larva that has 6), oval in shape and with a sparse covering of short hairs. The mite is widely distributed throughout warmer regions of the world. It is a parasite, feeding on the blood of common birds including pigeons, starlings, sparrows, Indian mynahs, poultry, and some wild birds. Bird mites are semi-transparent in colour, which makes them difficult to detect on skin until blood is ingested and then digested when they may appear reddish to blackish.
Contact with humans usually occurs after birds gain entry to roof cavities via broken tiles or through unprotected eaves, of homes, factories, barns and other dwellings to construct their nests in early spring or summer. However, some infestations also occur from birds roosting on the outside of dwellings such as window ledges or awnings. The mites feed on the unfeathered nestlings, as well as the adult birds, and the large amount of nesting material used by the birds provide the mites with an ideal environment in which to thrive. The mites have a short life cycle (approximately 7 days) and can rapidly generate large populations.
When the young birds leave the nest, or die, many mites (often many tens of thousands) are left behind in the absence of a suitable host, and these will disperse from the nest into and throughout the dwelling searching for new hosts. Most mites will die within 3 weeks without a blood meal from a bird host. They will bite humans they encounter but cannot survive on humans.
As a result of their 'test biting' while searching for a new bird host, the mites inject saliva. This can lead to severe irritation with rashes and intense itching. Scratching of the bites may result in secondary infections. Bird mites are not associated with the transmission of any infectious disease. The bites are often difficult to diagnose and can be mistaken for bites from a number of other arthropods.
The greatest impacts from bird mites are usually experienced in rooms close to the point of entry of the mites. The mites have no preference for any particular areas of the body and they do not live underneath the skin, nor can an infestation be maintained on humans. However, the problem will persist while the bird-related source of the mites remains. Until the infestation is controlled, the occupants of the building can experience considerable discomfort. Also, the sensation of crawling mites on the skin will irritate some people.
Identification by high-power light microscopy, using appropriate taxonomic keys, by an expert is the only method of correctly identifying the mite. Although Ornithonyssus bursa is the most common mite associated with infestation of homes there are several other mites associated with birds within Australia that can invade dwellings and bite humans. These bird mites include Ornithonyssus sylviarum (Northern fowl mite) and Dermanyssus gallinae (Chicken mite). Also, a closely related species, Ornithonyssus bacoti (Tropical rat mite), occasionally attacks humans. This species is associated with rodents, such as rats and mice, and their nests. Ornithonyssus bursa and Ornithonyssus bacoti are taxonomically very similar and are extremely difficult to differentiate. Correct identification is absolutely necessary if appropriate control procedures are to be recommended.
Treatment and Control
The irritation associated with bites can be alleviated with an anti-pruritic such as crotamiton (e.g. EURAX®) but there is no specific treatment. Severe reactions may have to be treated as for other allergic conditions with antihistamines. Unless steps are taken to control the mite infestation, symptoms resulting from bird mite bite will continue.
Once the mite has been correctly identified, appropriate steps must be taken to locate and remove the source/s of the infestation and prevent its recurrence. All nesting sites should be located and nesting material removed.
An insecticidal spray can be applied to ensure total eradication of mites, but treatment of rooms without removal of nests in roof cavities will not stop further mites entering and the problem will continue. Broken tiles or timber allowing access to roof cavities should be repaired and all potential entry points to the eaves and roof cavity blocked. Roosting and nesting sites on window ledges should be cleared and made unsuitable for future bird use. A pest control officer may have to be employed to undertake these control measures, especially if large areas are involved.
Confirmation and Enquiries
Identification of mites and all other medically important arthropods is preformed through the Medical Entomology Department at ICPMR, Westmead Hospital. The Medical Entomology Department is the only NATA accredited laboratory in Australia for the identification of arthropods of medical importance.
Are they harmful? What do they do?
For most people, while they are disgusting, house dust mites are not actually harmful. However, the medical significance of house dust mites arises because their microscopic cast skins and feces are a major constituent of house dust that induces allergic reactions in some individuals. There is a genetic predisposition to dust mite allergies, but like many allergies it can also develop over time.According to Darryl C. Zeldin, acting director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Services, in the Wall Street Journal (January 5, 2010, Page D2), 18% to 30% of Americans are allergic to dust mites' waste products, and almost 50% of American homes have allergen levels that are high enough to cause sensitivity in people who were nt previously allergic to dustmites. In other words, high levels of dust mites and their wastes, can cause previously non-allergic people to develop an allergy. In addition to producing allergic reactions, dust mites can also cause nasal polyps growths within the nose (see this article at 24 Medica). The constituents of house dust are show in the following figure:
Organisms in household dust:
For those individuals, inhaling the house dust allergen triggers rhinitis allergica or bronchial asthma. People with allergies to house dust usually also have allergic reactions to house dust mite fecal material and cast skins. Studies have shown that the most potent house dust allergens can be extracted from the feces produced by dust mites. Other important allergen-producing organisms that are found in house dust are found in Figure 1. The rest of this fact sheet, based on Chapter 10, "Mites," in Common-Sense Pest Control by Olkowski, Daar and Olkowski, will discuss biology of dust mites and will emphasize non-chemical control tactics. An allergist, a medical doctor specially trained to treat allergies, should be consulted for proper diagnosis and treatment of allergies.
One of the most strongly allergenic materials found indoors is house dust, often heavily contaminated with the fecal pellets and cast skins of House Dust Mites. Estimates are that dust mites may be a factor in 50 to 80 percent of asthmatics, as well as in countless cases of eczema, hay fever and other allergic ailments. Common causes of allergy include house dust mites, cat dander, cockroach droppings and grass pollen. Symptoms are usually respiratory in nature (sneezing, itching, watery eyes, wheezing, etc.), usually NOT A RASH. However, there are reports of a red rash around the neck. Other allergic reactions may include headaches, fatigue and depression.
The wheeze-inducing proteins are digestive juices from the mite gut which are quite potent. An exposure to the mites in the first, crucial year of life can trigger a lifelong allergy. There is no cure, only prevention. One must control house dust mite levels.
Beds are a prime habitat (where 1/3 of life occurs). A typical used mattress may have anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million mites inside. (Ten percent of the weight of a two year old pillow can be composed of dead mites and their droppings.) Mites prefer warm, moist surroundings such as the inside of a mattress when someone is on it. A favorite food is dander (both human and animal skin flakes). Humans shed about 1/5 ounce of dander (dead skin) each week. About 80 percent of the material seen floating in a sunbeam is actually skin flakes. Also, bedroom carpeting and household upholstery support high mite populations.
Three Things You Didn’t Know About the Arachnids That Live on Your FaceThis is a Demodex folliculorum. It lives on your face. Image credit: USDA, Confocal and Electron Microscopy Unit. Click for image with scale bar.
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Michelle Trautwein, adjunct assistant professor of entomology at NC State and Schlinger Chair of Dipterology at the California Academy of Sciences.
You are not alone. Your body is a collection of microbes, fungi, viruses…and even other animals. In fact, you aren’t even the only animal using your face. Right now, in the general vicinity of your nose, there are at least two species of microscopic mites living in your pores. You would expect scientists to know quite a lot about these animals (given that we share our faces with them), but we don’t.
Here is what we do know: Demodex mites are microscopic arachnids (relatives of spiders and ticks) that live in and on the skin of mammals – including humans. They have been found on every mammal species where we’ve looked for them, except the platypus and their odd egg-laying relatives.
Often mammals appear to host more than one species, with some poor field mouse species housing four mite species on its face alone. Generally, these mites live out a benign coexistence with their hosts. But if that fine balance is disrupted, they are known to cause mange amongst our furry friends, and skin ailments like rosacea and blepharitis in humans. Most of us are simply content – if unaware – carriers of these spindly, eight-legged pore-dwellers.
Scientists from NC State, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and the California Academy of Sciences have just published a study that uncovers some previously unknown truths regarding these little-known mites – all the while providing a glimpse into even bigger mysteries that have yet to be solved.
1. Everyone has mites.
One of our most exciting discoveries is that these mites are living on everyone. Yes everyone (even you). This hasn’t always been obvious because it can be hard to find a microscopic mite living on one’s face. Traditional sampling methods (including scraping or pulling a piece of tape off your face) only return mites on 10-25 percent of adults. The fact that mites are found at a much higher rate on cadavers (likely because the dead are easier to sample more extensively and intrusively) was a hint that they might be much more ubiquitous.
As it turns out, you don’t have to actually see a mite to detect its presence. Dan Fergus, a mite molecular biologist at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, discovered that mite DNA could be sequenced from face scrapings regardless of whether a mite could be found under the microscope. And mite DNA was sequenced from every adult we sampled. Meaning that if you let us scrape your face, we’d find mite DNA on you as well. And where mite DNA is found, you’ll find mites.
2. Humans host two mite species that aren’t closely related to each other.
Demodex brevis. Image: Dan Fergus and Megan Thoemmes. Click to enlarge.
One of the most intriguing (and unsolved) face mite mysteries is how humans acquired these beasties. Perhaps these mites are a model system of co-evolution. It’s possible that as every species of mammal evolved, so did their mites – each one particularly adapted to its changed environs. In such a case, we would expect that we acquired our mites from our ape ancestors, and that the two species of human mites would be more closely related to each other than to any other mite species.
However, we’ve learned that the two mite species on our faces Demodex folliculorum (the long skinny one, pictured at the top of this post) and Demodex brevis (the short, chubby one, photo to the right) are actually not very close relatives to each other at all. Our analyses actually show that brevis is more closely related to dog mites than to folliculorum, the other human mite. This is interesting because it shows us that humans have acquired each of these mite species in different ways, and that there are two separate histories of how each of these mite species came to be on our face.
Though we don’t have enough evidence to say that we got one of our mites from man’s best friend, it does seem possible that one of the domestic animal species that we’ve long shared our lives with (be it dogs, goats or otherwise) may have gifted us their mites.
3. Mites can tell us about the historical divergence of human populations
How we acquired our mites is just one part of the story. We are also curious about how our mite species have evolved since they became our constant companions.
Demodex have likely been living with us for a long, long time as early humans walked out of Africa and found their way around the globe, they probably carried their mites with them. So we want to know if Demodex DNA can provide a reflection of our own evolutionary history by allowing us to retrace those ancient paths of human migration.
So far, our analyses look promising. When looking at the DNA from one of our mite species, D. brevis, we found that mites from China are genetically distinct from mites from the Americas. East Asians and European populations diverged over 40,000 years ago and so far it looks like their mites did as well. On the other hand, D. folliculorum from China is indistinguishable from that of the Americas. Of the two Demodex species associated with humans, D. brevis lives deeper in your pores than folliculorum and is probably shared between people less readily, whereas D. folliculorum appears to enjoy global domination.
But as exciting as these results are, China and the US are just a small piece of the picture. We can’t wait to see what happens when we sample D. brevis from people all over the world! The ancient journey of Homo sapiens as retold by mites.
If reading this made your face a little itchy, rest easy. In an evolutionary perspective, humans and Demodex are old, old friends. You are in good company. And so are your mites.
Outside of North America there are a few other bugs that can live under our skin. The only one that I have ever seen in a patient is the human botfly. These flies live in Central and South America. The adult lays eggs in our skin that hatch into larvae that are about 1/2 inch long. The typical story is a patient who develops several very painful boils a week or two after coming back from Costa Rica or someplace like that.
Myth: Scabies can be passed between humans and household pets.
Reality: While animal forms do exist, scabies is species-specific. Canine scabies is known as “mange.” These mites can crawl on humans, producing itching, but they will be unable to multiply and will soon die. And while human S. scabiei presumably can infest dogs and other pets, the mites cannot survive for extended periods or carry out their life cycle. So although humans may develop symptoms of an animal scabies infection, they do not have to be treated for the disease. Occasionally in our practice, a clinician will see a patient with pruritus secondary to a pet’s scabies. A recent example was a young girl who developed an itchy rash on her chest and arms after clutching a pet rabbit. In such cases, it is best to get the animal treated and/or put more distance between the person and pet. A topical steroid cream can be applied to the patient’s rash to ease the pruritus.
What Causes Demodex Mites In Humans?
As mentioned earlier, this tiny parasitic mite lives even in normal humans. It does not produce any symptoms. However, with low immunity, demodex mites may multiply fast and give rise to many annoying symptoms. Demodex mites live in the hair follicles and inside the sebaceous glands. Demodex brevis generally resides in oil gland while demodex folliculorum is present in the hair follicle.
Demodex mite lives by sucking nutrients from hair follicles and skin. They are common in old and aged individual, people suffering from chronic illness, or following unhealthy practices. Reproduction of demodex mites is fast. It takes the mite to mature within two weeks and thus the infestation is rapid and quick.
How to Get Rid of Mites
This article was co-authored by Jon Gholian. Jon Gholian is a Cleaning Specialist and the Founder of Cleany NYC, a home and office cleaning concierge service based in New York City. Jon specializes in providing quality cleaning and handyman services to all Cleany’s customers. All Cleany employees are insured, bonded, and trained. Cleany has been featured in the New York Times and on Bravo.
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Similar to lice, mites are skin parasites that feast on dry and infected skin, causing intense itching, pain, embarrassment and being socially ostracized from friends and family. Scabies, the infamous painful skin condition, is often caused directly by mites. Other mites, such as dust mites, are notorious for the allergies they cause some mites will latch to your pets and others will invade your garden and yard. For each type of mite you face, a different method of extermination is required. Chemicals may be useful around your home, but if used on pets or plants could be extremely harmful.