When Ol’ Blue Eyes sang, ” Ive got you under my skin”, I am sure he was NOT talking about this:
However, this little critter is the subject of today’s factoid.
Do bugs live in eyelashes?
Most people don’t like the idea that bugs can live on their skin and hair. However, the truth is that many bugs do, and they live with us in harmony, most of the time. By the time we reach late adulthood, most of us have wiggly, microscopic, wormlike mites called demodex mites living in the roots of our eyelashes. If you pull out one of your eyelashes and examine it under a strong magnifying glass, or better, a microscope, there is a good chance you will see one of these tiny mites clinging to the base of the lash. They can also live in our skin pores and the hair follicles on our face, such as the eyebrows.
These mites are cigar shaped, a third of a millimeter (a tiny fraction of an inch) long, and have eight stubby little legs situated at the front of their long, so they waddle along fairly slowly. When one of these mites reaches a hair, it burrows headfirst down into the follicle. Their bodies are layered with scales, which help to anchor them into the follicle, and their needlelike mouths eat dead skin and oil that is produced by the skin. Fortunately, although the mites eat, they don’t actually poo in the follicles.
An individual female can lay a number of eggs in a single follicle. When mature, the mites leave the follicle, mate, and find a new follicle into which they lay their eggs. Each mite can live for several weeks, and mites can be transferred between humans if two people’s hair, eyebrows, or the sebacceous glands on their noses come into close contact.
Mites living on our eyelashes are usually quite harmless, and most people are totally unaware of the little squatters living in their hair follicles. However, if too many accumulate in a single hair follicle, they can cause itching, certain skin disorders, or an eyelash to fall out. As many as twenty-five eyelash mites have been found huddled together in a single follicle! There are some great pictures of these mites in a variety of poses on the Internet.
Okay, now I’m itching like crazy!
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