I finally found a live face mite!

Ever since I learned about the existence of Demodex (face mites) and its presence in almost every human being a couple of months ago, I decided to look for one as I thought it would be an interesting creature to observe under the foldscope. But soon, I realized that it was very hard to find one!

From then on, I treated the Demodex as one of my personal “must finds” and considered finding one as a milestone in amateur microscopy. For weeks I tried different techniques, like sticking several tapes on my face overnight, scraping oil off my nose and cheeks, and even pulling some of my facial hairs (as I’ve read that they like to live near hair follicles) – but to no avail… Until finally, I found a technique that worked!

Since I badly wanted to catch the face mites even while they are hiding within the pores of my skin, I thought of something that would really “stick” on my face, so I decided to use a liquid peel-off face mask. I’ve also read that they like to stay in areas with lots of sebum, so I decided to apply the peel-off mask on my nose as I believe that it’s the oiliest area of my face. After letting the mask to dry for 15 minutes, I carefully tried to peel it off in one piece (probably the trickiest part). Then, I used a tape to collect some of the “whiteheads” caught by the mask, and placed the tape on a glass slide for viewing.

The encircled area is the spot where I found the mite.

It took me about an hour perhaps to find a single face mite. While it’s a little disturbing to think that tiny mites are living on our face at this very moment, I still somehow find it cute. For me, it looks like a tardigrade with a long tale, or a flying bison from Avatar: The Last Airbender, but with 8 legs instead of 6!

Close-up of the mite’s opisthosoma, showing striations on the cuticle

I also found something else, but I’m not quite sure what this is. I just find it beautiful. I hope someone could enlighten me on what this is:

To those who are also looking for their face mites, I hope this post helps. Good luck, and happy hunting!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. RebeccaKonte says:

    Cedrick, this post is amazing!!!

    Earlier this month a brilliant post, https://microcosmos.foldscope.com/?p=140068 , by Honomi inspired me to hunt for my own Demodex… and now your post has given me another kick, I must actually do it! Great idea with the face mask too.

    Here’s to hopefully finding my own mites soon.
    Rebecca

  2. Manu Prakash says:

    What a fantastic post. I had never seen face mites live! What a spectacular post.

    Thank you fir sharing the process; your creativity in finding them is inspiring!

    The colorful piece in the very end looks a lot like microplastic. Sinceastvweek a study suggested microplastic are blown by wind. So it’s possible it can land on a face.

    Cheers
    Manu

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