Previous studies suggested that few people would have mites crawling on their skin. However, a new research brought forth amazing results, with all of the participants having traces of mite DNA on their skin. Mites of the species Demodex are those whose DNA was spotted.
It is a common fact that we coexist with microorganisms on an intimate level: bacteria are all over our skin, acting as a live protective barrier, and inside our alimentary canal, helping us with digestion. Bacteria thrive on and inside of us – fact which perhaps no longer seems as gross as one would have previously thought. Wait till you hear more. Bacteria are not the only living things using our bodies as homes. The skin also carries mites on its surface – mites are arthropods, falling into the subcategory arachnids. Oh wait, now this is creepy! A new study published in the online journal PLOS ONE has shown that all of the participants who took part in their research had pieces of DNA of mite species.
The mites found by the researchers are known as the Demodex mites. They are tiny, making around 0.3 mm in length. Their small size enables them to clog inside the pores on the skin. Two of these mite species are the Demodex folliculorum and the Demodex brevis; the former is found in follicles while the latter are found in sebaceous glands. One of each is either in a follicle or a sebaceous gland. Hair follicles are found in huge numbers on an adult body: around 5 million of them. Imagine the situation if each hair follicle were to be inhabited by mites, pretty creepy, right?
The mites in question are harmless to humans. However, in exceptional cases, their presence may lead to inflammation. For instance, if a person has a compromised immune system, the mites may increase in number causing unpleasant reactions. Otherwise, they do not harm humans if they are kept in check.
It was previously thought that not everyone would have mites on their skin. However, the new study has erased this theory. Each participant of the study showed traces of DNA of the mites. The discrepancy between the results of past studies and this one might have resulted because of experimental technicques. Also, past studies might not have investigated a broad enough sample of hair follicles coming from different parts of the body. Now, the next step to demystify the case of mites on human skin would be to examine people from other regions of the world. Are mites ubiquitous, or are they selectively distributed across the globe?