Infectious Diseases

Updated 06 January 2016

Bugged for life: the creepy crawlies on our skin that we're stuck with for life

No matter how many times you shower or how hard you scrub yourself with medicinal soap, there are still going to be millions of yucky bugs crawling all over your skin. Yikes!

Did you know that, right now, there are as many creatures on your body as there are people on earth?

If the thought horrifies you, at least you can take heart in the fact that they are so tiny, few of them ever grow large enough for the naked eye to see. What you can't see can't hurt, right?

Well, maybe you should stop reading right here. Scientists say these mites (parasites to be exact) are all over all of us, all of the time. And they're not just sitting there, they're constantly feeding on the skin flakes we shed throughout the day. Yum. Seriously?

The only way to really rid yourself of them is to literally set yourself on fire, which isn't a very sustainable solution. 

Here are some of the worst creepy crawlies on your skin right now:

- Tiny fungi can be found on each strand of hair. Fungi cause different diseases depending on the specific type of fungus and where they are in the body.

- In the roots of our eyelashes live tiny mites called Demodex folliculorum. According to DermNet NZ  Demodex folliculorum can't get enough of small hair follicles, particularly the eyelashes, and in both its immature and adult stages it constantly feeds on your skin cells. 

We're sure you are trying not to blink right now ...

PS, girls, be sure to throw away old eye make-up - if it's past its use-by date it is a farm for these nasties.

Pediculus humanus capitis commonly known as head lice are about the size of a sesame seed, and can easily be seen, although they hide quickly when exposed to light. 

They're pretty much seasonal and there are good ways to prevent them from attaching themselves to your hair in the first place

- Sarcoptes scabiei is another tiny mite that causes scabies. Not to be confused with rabies, the disease often affects areas of skin folds, especially in the groin, fingers, toes, wrists and underarms. 

Scabies is very contagious, spreading easily from person to person on physical contact. No hugs for you!

Are you already scratching yourself all over? Watch this video then run for the shower with some good disinfectant!

Read more:

The ugly truth about head lice
Help! How to prevent head lice
Get rid of head lice - naturally 
Image: mites from Shutterstock

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