As you read this, there are mites living and crawling along your face, basking in the glorious feast that is your oily sweat, eating out of your pores like pools of pudding. Researchers from North Carolina State University discovered the startling realization that no matter how much you exfoliate and scrub your skin, you have microscopic critters crawling all over your face, and they published their creepy findings in the journal PLOS ONE.

There are more than 48,000 species of mites, and two of them have been found living on human skin, buried head-down, eating the oils we secrete, and exploring the surface of our cheeks, nose, foreheads, and chins as we sleep. One of the species on our face, the Demodex brevis, is related to mites found on dogs that can cause mange. Scientists have known about these skin-loving Demodex mites for more than 100 years, but the critters haven’t been fully investigated until now, when researchers scraped the sides of people’s noses at a science event in Raleigh, N.C., and found every single adult 18 years and older had DNA from mites on their skin.

"The first time I found one on my face I didn't sleep for four nights," the study’s co-author Megan Thoemmes, graduate student at North Carolina State University, told NPR. "They're actually pretty cute. With their eight little legs, they look like they're almost swimming through the oil. It's like having friends with you all the time. Realizing that everyone has them and they're likely not causing any problems, it's pretty reassuring."

They don’t know how mites are spread, but there is a theory floating around that they’re likely to pass on from mother to child during breastfeeding because children are less likely to have them, or if they do they have significantly less than adults. Considering the mites were found on 100 percent of all of the hundreds of adults they tested, researchers want to investigate further into the history and origins of the Demodex mites and see if they cause any skin problems or risks that red flag health concerns.

"We want to get a lot of samples from humans around the world, to see how that genetic diversity is falling out and have a fuller picture of what is happening,” Thoemmes said of the research team’s future plan of face exploration.

Source: Dunn RR, Trautwein M, Urban J, Fergus DJ, and Thoemmes MS. Ubiquity and Diversity of Human-Associated Demodex Mites. PLOS One. 2014.