We share our world with millions of organisms and creatures, and some of them live a little closer than you might think. Believe it or not, you have creepy crawlies on you right now. And when put under the microscope, some of them are terrifying. One place a certain type of bug loves is the human eyebrow, which offers the perfect refuge from the world outside. There are hundreds of different mites and parasites living on all of us, and perhaps one of the most interesting is the so-called ‘eyebrow bug’. These little mites love nothing more than to set up camp in your eyebrows - although they also like living in your eyelashes and nose hairs.
What is the ‘eyebrow bug’?
The technical term for these little creatures is demodex. Sometimes referred to as face mites and follicle mites, demodex will live anywhere with easy access to hair follicles - but they seem to enjoy the face the most.
Of course, you won’t see anything if you look in the mirror, as these little critters are tiny. Measuring between 0.3mm and 0.4mm, ‘eyebrow bugs’ are invisible to the naked eye. Their bodies are almost transparent and consist of two different sections. They also have eight legs, which actually makes them arachnids, not insects. So, these tiny mites that live on your face are part of the same biological class as spiders.
It is believed that one of the reasons the mites prefer the face is the oily nature of the skin cells in this area of the body. Demodex use their pin-like mouths to eat skin, so the face provides a plentiful supply of food.
Mites aren’t living on the human face from birth, however. We pick these tiny arachnids up over time. In fact, it is estimated that the average 60-year-old has between one and two thousand on their face. There are several types of this mite, including demodex brevis and demodex folliculorum.
If you have hair, it is very likely that these microscopic mites are living on your face and head right now. Unfortunately, washing doesn’t removing them, as they grip onto individual strands of hair with their eight feet. And they don’t come out until nighttime, when they search for fresh hairs to attach themselves to. At full speed, the average eyebrow bug can cover one centimetre an hour in search of a new home.
Thankfully, there is some good news. These horrible little creatures don’t have anuses, so they don’t leave droppings all over your face!
Can eyebrow bugs cause any health problems?
The simple fact is that the vast majority of adult humans have these microscopic arachnids living on their faces. As far as scientists know, there are no known side-effects of their presence. But it’s not all good news. Large populations of these arachnids can gather as a result of a suppressed immune system. In such large numbers, the mites can cause a ‘mite bite’, which can cause inflammation of the skin, itching and, occasionally, eyelashes fallign out.
How to get rid of demodex bugs
A lot of people live with ‘eyebrow bugs’ without realising it. An infestation only becomes apparent when an allergic reaction occurs, or when eyelashes and hair from the eyebrows starts to fall out.
If you have a demodex infestation, you should take the following steps to get rid of it - and stop it from returning:
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