Of the hundred trillion cells in the human body, only ten percent are human. The rest are our microflora – bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms that reside in or on our bodies. Sometimes, we pick up other hitchhikers, not all of them pleasant.
There’s a high probability that arachnids live on your eyelashes. Demodex are parasitic mites about 0.3 mm long that live in human eyelash hair follicles. About fifty percent of people have been colonised. In low light, they emerge and travel across the face, feeding on sebum and dead skin cells. They live, excrete, mate, lay eggs, die and decompose inside hair follicles. Your eyelashes may have harboured many generations of Demodex.
People complaining of the feeling that worms are moving around inside their cheeks and gums are often diagnosed with delusional parasitosis, a psychosis in which sufferers believe that insects or parasites are burrowing into their skin. Unfortunately, it’s not always the correct diagnosis.
Gongylonema pulchrum is a parasitic nematode, a worm-like animal, up to 60 mm long. Infection can occur after ingestion of coprophagous insects such as dung beetles or ingestion of food or water contaminated with the larva. Six weeks later, sufferers complain of something moving inside their mouth and lips as the worms migrate under the skin. This may continue for many months until the worms, up to 13 cm long, are removed, often simply pulled out of the mouth.