Long accused of being the cause of acne, these parasites are actually allies for the health of our skin. Unfortunately, their days may be numbered.
Scientists from the University of Bangor (Wales) and the University of Reading (England) made this discovery by carrying out the first DNA analysis of these mites.
Measuring approximately 0.3mm in length, these little beasts live in our pores. 90% of the population wear them daily. Their favorite places are the nostrils, the forehead, the ear canal but also the nipples.
They lead a harmless life and feast on the sebum naturally secreted by our pores. They have probably been present since we were young, having been transferred from our mothers during childbirth or breastfeeding.
Until now, they were accused of being the cause of several skin diseases. But instead, these nocturnal mites help our pores open up and get rid of oils that contribute to infections and blemishes.
By studying the DNA of these mites, scientists have discovered that they do not encounter any other mites and no competitors threaten them since they live all their lives in our skin.
The more they adapt to us, the more likely they are to lose genes, until eventually they become entirely dependent on us. As a result, they have passed on the same genes for millions of years and no longer evolve.
These nocturnal mites are therefore on the road to an evolutionary dead end and potential extinction.
If that happens, it could be bad news for human beings. “They are associated with healthy skin, so if we lose them, you could have skin problems”Dr. Alejandra Perotti of the University of Reading told the BBC.