havblue 4 days ago

>They become active at night and move between follicles looking to mate.

Clearly, as good a reason as any to shower in the morning instead of the evening.

  • coryfklein 4 days ago

    As the article explains, the mites can no longer produce melanin to support a day-night cycle and instead rely on the melanin the human produces at dusk, which means by the time morning comes they have probably already returned to the pores. So if, for some odd reason, you wanted to reduce the populations of this symbiotic organism then you would want to climb in bed, relax for a few minutes, then hop out and shower.

zajio1am 5 days ago

Note that these mites (Demodex folliculorum) are associated with seborrhoeic dermatitis and rosacea.

  • koheripbal 5 days ago

    And can be easily killed with topical ivermectin prescribed by a doctor.

    I used it - it works great!

    • rpmisms 4 days ago

      Makes sense, I've heard it's a hell of an anti-parasitic drug.

  • calibas 4 days ago

    The article mentions they have been "unfairly blamed for many skin conditions".

    • haswell 4 days ago

      That sentence stood out to me, and it's unclear if they mean "shouldn't be blamed for these conditions at all" or "are responsible for some skin conditions, but are unfairly blamed for others".

sloan 5 days ago

Huh, so if they have a beneficial effect I wonder what happens if you disrupt their lifecycle. Are they, for instance, sensitive to certain cleansing compounds, etc.

  • ta8645 4 days ago

    I have a problem with a compromised immune system that lets the population of these mites get out of hand. It results in red, patchy skin on my face. This was an embarrassing problem for years before finding out the root cause. Now a few times a week I rinse my face in red vinegar, which has totally stopped the problem.

  • CodeBeater 5 days ago

    I wonder if such a disruption is the reason why some people seem to be excessively prone to blackheads, like yours truly for instance, my nose looks like a strawberry up close.

    • polishdude20 4 days ago

      Mine too but I never wash my face with anything but water.

  • antihero 5 days ago

    When I wash my face with soap by accident, I usually get a breakout of spots and have to use acnecide. Always figured it was due to killing the mites.

  • feet 5 days ago

    We need to stop lathering ourselves up with soap all the time. Like mites, we have a community living on our skin, our microbiome and soap decimates that community that helps us

    • polishdude20 4 days ago

      Does it though? As long as the soap isn't antibacterial, it shouldn't exterminate everything.

      • isbn 4 days ago

        > As long as the soap isn't antibacterial, it shouldn't exterminate everything.

        All soap is antibacterial.

        • feet 4 days ago

          This is true. Soap's purpose is to literally break down the cell walls of bacteria, some are more resistant so antibacterials are needed depending on the constituents of the cell wall

      • coryfklein 4 days ago

        These aren't bacteria though, they are animals. It's unclear whether antibacterial soap has much of a detrimental effect on them at all.

Sjeiti 5 days ago

Here's how to get them off your face: https://youtu.be/-C1icoe40M8

  • RamRodification 5 days ago

    To save other people time:

    The video shows how to get some of them off your face if you want to study them. Not how to get rid of them permanently, or even temporarily.

    • sverhagen 5 days ago

      As a totally unrelated aside, would one be able to express that distinction using "of" versus "off"?

      • wil421 5 days ago

        Off, as in take off your clothes or turn a light switch off. It’s means separation or disconnection.

        Of shows a relationship. The Queen of the UK. Get rid of the mites on my face!

        • thaumasiotes 5 days ago

          Though note that etymologically "of" is a derivative of "off". There was no need for a preposition "of" historically because the idea was expressed by declining a noun into the genitive case. But as the Romance languages developed from Latin, the case system largely died out and the Latin preposition de radically shifted its meaning to the current meaning of "of".

          Romance de was translated into English as off because that is the appropriate translation of Latin (but not Romance) de.[1] And, the senses being unrelated, of diverged from off.

          [1] Actually, the conventional translation my Latin instruction used for de as a verbal prefix was "down from". (As in "descend".) As a preposition it has a few different uses, including "off", "down from", and "about" (as in "what's that book about?"). "From" more generally would be e or ex, but "down from" gets its own preposition.

          • wil421 4 days ago

            English has too many words thanks to being ruled by the French. I think English has 170,000 vs French having almost 60,000.

            For your point [1], I did like de when I studied Spanish in school.

      • samatman 4 days ago

        I would use the preposition 'from' thus: "how to get some mites from your face".

        This construction makes it clear that we're taking some mites, presumably to do something with them, rather than trying to render the face mite-free.

      • ericbarrett 4 days ago

        You could use all the words: "get some from off of your face"

        • stephen_g 4 days ago

          Noting of course that “off of” is mostly an American-English construction (although it does also pop up in some of the more ‘working class’ British dialects like cockney).

      • aidos 4 days ago

        I guess here you could use “get them from your face”

LoveMortuus 5 days ago

But if they're becoming symbionts does the 'symbiont' part just mean that they can't live without the other?

I was under a belief that in a symbiotic relationship both parties benefit for the relationship, but I don't see and fail to find what humans gain from this relationship.

If anyone knows please do share!

  • contingo 4 days ago

    The biological term "symbiosis", by itself, in the strict sense, doesn't imply a benefit for both parties, it just describes a persistent and physically close association between two species. Hence parasitism or commensalism are also forms of symbiosis and so are associations which are not obligate, but facultative (both bionts can live without the other, however prevalent the association). "Obligate symbiotic mutualism" is the category for what you're describing. "Endosymbiosis" implies such an integrated relationship that it is at least obligate for the endosymbiont. In this human-mite case there are various claims of benefits and drawbacks to humans from the relationship, and the symbiosis is certainly already obligate for the mites.

  • bigDinosaur 5 days ago

    Why, we gain lots of little friends!

    I did read something about how they might help with unblocking our pores, but who knows.

  • coryfklein 4 days ago

    The article calls it out specifically: they are microscopic pore-cleaning machines!

    > Mites have been blamed for a lot of things. The long association with humans might suggest that they also could have simple but important beneficial roles, for example, in keeping the pores in our face unplugged.

  • samatman 4 days ago

    They compete with other tiny bugs who would be happy to just eat our faces.

mfgs 5 days ago

> Their reproductive organs have moved anteriorly, and males have a penis that protrudes upwards from the front of their body meaning they have to position themselves underneath the female when mating, and copulate as they both cling onto the human hair.

Does this mean they’ll die off relatively quickly if all body hair is cut off? Or does this happen beneath the skin?

sgt 5 days ago

We have penis mites in our faces? Unacceptable

  • jonplackett 5 days ago

    But they _do_ have an anus. Which is apparently good news.

    • nmeofthestate 5 days ago

      Reminds me that the no-op garbage collector is considered one valid implementation of a garbage collector.

    • justsomehnguy 5 days ago

      Quite surprising sentence to encounter on new comments feed.

      • quickthrower2 5 days ago

        The comment made no sense to me, then I read the article and .. aha!

    • feet 5 days ago

      Good news, everyone!

  • LoveMortuus 5 days ago

    I guess d*ckhead makes much more sense now~

LoveMortuus 5 days ago

Them being sensitive to UV would mean that facemasks with UV lights might actually do something!

  • antihero 5 days ago

    Yes, make your skin worse by killing your friendly neigbourhood mites.

coryfklein 4 days ago

Super fascinating to see the general trends of genetic drift that happen given the conditions of:

* low competition

* host symbiosis

* significant inbreeding

I wonder how much you can analogize this to a more complex organism like the grey wolf's transition to the domesticated dog? You could potentially use this research to extrapolate trends in canine evolution! As the mites have shed DNA that helped them survive in more hostile environments, we see dogs losing traits that allowed them to survive in their ancestral environment as well; pack hunting behavior, size, ear shape.

fnordpiglet 5 days ago

I for one welcome our symbiont overlords.

SyzygistSix 4 days ago

I appreciate the use of "in" rather than "on". Thank you for that.

ilaksh 5 days ago

How do you kill them?

  • fnordpiglet 5 days ago

    Since you can’t know if they’re there or not, you won’t know if anything kills them or not. So, no matter what you do you’ll imagine them having sex on your face all night and engorging themselves on your skin oils then pooping on you. These are things that can’t be unthought. Sorry man.

    • nerdponx 4 days ago

      Does this mean that if you are doing things in the dark (eg driving at night) then the mites will come out and do their thing while you are awake?

  • tulert 5 days ago

    One compound is terpinen-4-ol which is a primary constituent of tea tree oil. Several products containing terpinen-4-ol exist to treat rosacea and ocular rosacea such as Cliradex and Oust Demodex.

    Study of commercial terpinen-4-ol products against mites:


  • pmontra 5 days ago

    They're probably mostly harmless or there won't be 8 billion humans on the planet.

    • smilespray 5 days ago

      This is the kind of perspective that actually works for me. Thanks!

      • thaumasiotes 5 days ago

        Even parasites that are definitely detrimental are generally not especially bad for hosts that have coevolved with them. Hookworm in the American South was completely debilitating for the impoverished whites it infected, but basically a nuisance for the blacks. This is generally how parasites work.

        So there would be much more cause for alarm if you believed that your face mites were a variety you weren't already adapted to.

        • nerdponx 4 days ago

          > Hookworm in the American South was completely debilitating for the impoverished whites it infected, but basically a nuisance for the blacks.

          That is fascinating (is hookworm from Africa and not present in Europe?). Where did you read/learn about this?

          • thaumasiotes 4 days ago

            > is hookworm from Africa and not present in Europe?

            Correct. (Well, the other hookworm, A. duodenale, is present around the Mediterranean. Necator Americanus, "the American killer", is from Africa.)

            I read about it on a blog, but it looks like there's some good discussion of the history in https://www.amazon.com/Parasites-Tales-Humanitys-Unwelcome-G...

            One of the things I find most interesting about the whole N. Americanus affair is that hookworm was a public health disaster of colossal proportions, and the medical research that recognized it was a big, important advance... but medical treatment for the problem is mostly irrelevant. The (very successful) "medical" intervention that solved this problem was just convincing people to wear shoes.

    • npteljes 4 days ago

      That's not saying much - just means that we can live until we can breed, and that the next generation also makes it somehow. The same thing could be said about any illness, drug, disaster or mis-treatment that ever happened.

  • sumy23 5 days ago

    Ivermectin cream. They are believed to cause rosacea, but are typically harmless if not beneficial.

    • nullifidian 5 days ago

      >Ivermectin cream.

      For a moment I thought it was a joke. Such are the times.

      • xyzzyz 5 days ago

        Ivermectin is an amazing drug all around. Very safe and useful in so many circumstances. It’s a great shame that it got politicized, first by people who took it unnecessarily because they didn’t trust the establishment, and then by the media and politicians, who badmouthed Ivermectin in order to dunk on the first group. Very sad.

        • nerdponx 4 days ago

          Is there any risk of ivermectin resistance developing in nematodes? That would be catastrophic, right?

      • alchemist1e9 5 days ago

        Definitely not a joke. I use Ivermectin cream to control Rosacea and it works well. The goal isn’t to eliminate them but to prevent overgrowth which is likely what causes most Rosacea.

      • bwat48 4 days ago

        This has been used for rosacea for a long time, predating the pandemic. there's a prescription called soolantra

  • kragen 5 days ago

    Probably ivermectin or lime sulfur or lindane or similar broad-spectrum pesticides will work, but they'll always come back.

    • kragen 4 days ago


  • octagonal 5 days ago

    Why do you want to kill them?

  • trhway 5 days ago

    may be instead they can be trained/convinced to perform some useful function, kind of like nanobots.