Your body isn’t just yours. It’s home to millions of other life-forms. Organisms too small to see with just your eyes, called microbes, outnumber your human cells ten to one. But don’t worry—most of them are harmless or even helpful. But that doesn’t mean they’re not gross.
Tiny eight-legged mites spend their whole lives on your face, spending most of their time at the base of your eyelash hairs. But at night they scurry around on your face.
Belly Button Biodiversity
Most people have about 67 different species living harmlessly in their navels. One man hosted a type of bacteria found only in Japan—even though he’d never been there.
At least 500 species of bacteria live in your large intestine. They help break down food and even create nutrients like vitamin K. Lunch really is a team effort.
Morning Breath Makers
Morning breath? Blame bacteria. While you sleep bacteria builds up in your mouth. These guys munch on leftover food between your teeth, then secrete a smelly compound.
Watch your step! These microbes attach to your feet in places like locker room showers. They can make your feet itchy and painful but are easy to get rid of.
You don’t have body odor. You have bacteria odor. Sweat is clear and scentless. The bacteria living on your skin eat the sweat and secrete a nasty smell. Still, these bacteria keep your skin healthy by pushing out other, more dangerous microbes.
You love sweet treats—and so do microbes! Microbes in your mouth feast on leftover food—but then they excrete lactic acid as waste. That acid can rot away protective tooth enamel, causing cavities.
A cloud of microbes all your own follows wherever you go, hanging in the air around you. The cloud is totally unique to you—everyone gives off a different amount and combination of the invisible bacteria. Someday scientists might be able to identify the room you’ve been in based on the microbes hanging in the air.
Text by Allyson Shaw, NGS Staff
Photo credits: Andrew Syred, Science Source (eyelash mite); Belly Button Diversity (belly button bacteria); Martin Oeggerli, with support from School of Life Sciences, FHNW (intestinal bacteria and mouth bacteria); David Scharf, Science Source (foot bacteria); Pixattitude, Dreamstime (sweaty man); Eye of Science, Science Source (tooth bacteria); spanteldotru, iStockphoto (bacteria cloud)