Here Are The Tiny Creatures Living In Your Body (NSFL)

Illustrated by Elena Boils.
Whether you're in a relationship or not, Valentine's Day always brings a special kind of stress. But, we want you to know — in the least creepy way possible — that you're never truly alone. Your own personal cheering section, while large in numbers, is perhaps smaller in size than you might realize.

From bacteria to fungi to mites, you've got trillions (trillions!) of tiny buddies with you all the time. They're constantly lookin' out for ya, and/or just plain happy to have you in their lives. They need you; you need them. Sometimes, it's both. 

In fact, way more of your cells are bacterial than human. But, the particular combination of microscopic friends you have on your body is as unique as you are. Click through to see a few of the pals that make up your particular biological ecosystem.
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Illustrated by Elena Boils.
Face Mites

Try as you might, you can't get rid of these little buddies. Pretty much everyone has some sort of face mite, but there's no reason to be worried about them: They're totally normal and part of the wonderfully complex ecosystem that is your mug. In a study published last year, researchers found that 100% of their sample of people over 18 years old had a Demodex species of mite living in their pores — the perfect tiny caves.
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Illustrated by Elena Boils.
Gut Bacteria

We've heard a lot about our microbiome recently — especially the one in our tummies and certain less-obvious places. It's full of our own perfect blend of bacteria that have a hand in digestion, the immune system, and maybe even mental health. So, show those little pals some love.
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Illustrated by Elena Boils.
Candida Albicans

Say hello to Candida albicans, the fungus that causes yeast infections. We're probably only aware of this one when it becomes overgrown (causing unpleasant problems that seize on a weakened immune system), but it's actually around all the time in smaller amounts, and is usually harmless. You are its perfect home.
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Illustrated by Elena Boils.
Varicella Zoster

The varicella zoster virus — a.k.a. chicken pox — can obviously cause a nasty illness. But, once you've beaten that, the zoster virus itself sticks around in your system in a dormant form. It may resurface as another painful rash, shingles. What can we say? These little guys tend to get attached. But, who can blame them? You're a cozy host.
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Illustrated by Elena Boils.
Motor Proteins

While these friends aren't quite "alive" in the same way as the others here, they do a variety of big jobs in a pretty adorable way. Artist renditions of motor proteins show them with two little "feet" pulling a vesicle along a microtubule in one of your cells. These guys play a huge role in many important processes, including cell division and transporting cargo along nerves.
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Illustrated by Elena Boils.
Belly Button Bacteria

Just like your gut and your pores, your belly button is home to a variety of bacterial friends. Just a few years ago, researchers identified over 2,000 species of bacteria in 60 belly buttons as part of the Belly Button Biodiversity project. But, everyone had their own individual bacterial jungle. You truly contain (tiny) multitudes.
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