The next time you look around and begin to think that Planet Earth is getting a little crowded, you might want to look at the population explosion a lot closer to you. When you count the number of lifeforms that call your body home, you play host to enough living creatures to qualify your body as its own planet.
Your body consists of about 10 trillion human cells. That’s an astonishingly-large number, but the bacteria in and on your body outnumber your human cells by at least a factor of ten. In fact, between one and three percent of your entire body mass consists of microbes.
If you zero in on the outlying island known as your bellybutton, you would find a complete ecosystem consisting of as many as 2,368 different types of bacteria. That’s just the bacteria types; that doesn’t begin to count how many of each type calls your naval their home.
If you haven’t begun to freak out yet, keep reading. Your face is home to a type of mite called Demodex. Curiously, Demodex babies are born without an anus, and they never develop one. They live their lives on your face, eating whatever they can find, continually putting on more and more weight. When they eat that one last bite that is too much for their little bodies to handle, they explode, spreading their innards all over your face. Remnants of exploding Demodex have been linked to problematic acne.
If the thought of all of these creepy crawlies sends you scurrying to the shower, you might harbor some guilt in knowing that the soap and hot water is having a cataclysmic effect on the population of your skin. Don’t mourn the death of those billions of microbes you are washing away. Before you have fully toweled off, a brand new population explosion is already in the works.