Medical and Science

Is it Safe to Pick your Nose?

famous doctor/picking his nose by kroszk@, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic LicensePhoto by  kroszk@

This is an odd topic, but have you ever been disgusted by someone in a public place that is sitting there just digging away at their nose.  You’d think they were digging for gold or something, without a care in the world. But just when you think the worst is over, BOOM, they stick that same finger in their mouth and eat what ever they’ve collected.  Yes folks this is absolutely disgusting and completely unsanitary. But yet some people still do it.

Medical Point of View on Picking your Nose

Doctors even have a special name for this kind of nasty habit, it’s called rhinotillexis, that’s the name for the simple act of picking ones nose. To take that a step further, mucophagy is the act of eating the goodies. So you know if there’s an actual medical term for this, that it may be a wide spread problem.

Here’s a scary thing…  An Austrian doctor named Dr. Friedrich Bischinger actually recommends that children should pick their noses and eat their boogers. I know, scary right! He is actually a lung specialist and believes people that regularly pick their noses are healthier and happier than those that do not.  Here’s an unusual quote from this doctor:

“With the finger you can get to places you just can’t reach with a handkerchief, keeping your nose far cleaner. And eathing the dry remains of what you pull out is a great way of strengthening the body’s immune system.”

Ok, this dude is off his rocker, but there is something to what he’s saying. He kind of sees it as a sort of antibody that can act sort of like a flu shot. He thinks by exposing the body to these germs and bacteria, it will help the body to become accustomed to and build up defense against them. I think I’d rather take my daily dose of vitamin C personally.

Even though this one doctor believes this bizarre ritual will keep you healthy, man of his colleagues disagree. The believe, and logically so, that the best way to avoid sickness is simply to avoid the germs in the first place.

Health Risks Involved with Picking your Nose

Of course we all know, or at least I hope we do, that picking your nose is as gross as spitting, burping, talking with your mouth full or hacking up stuff. But there are also certain health risks associated with picking your nose. For one, our fingers are nastier than the nose we’re picking. Since our hands and fingers touch pretty much everything throughout the day, they are loaded with germs and bacteria. Not to mention the amount of hands and fingers of other people that have touched those same objects. So by touching objects such as doorknobs or public telephones, and then picking your nose, you are transferring the germs directly into your body. Seeing how the nose is a dark, damp and warm home for these germs, they will have no problem living and multiplying at large. Of course this will eventually lead to you becoming sick!

Now let’s assume you are picking away and all the sudden you scrape or tear the inside of your nose, maybe burst a tiny blood vessel. Then the infection is straight away going into the blood stream. Andy your nose is dangerously close to your brain, and this could interfere with your blood flow. If this happens it may cause a condition called cavernous sinus thrombosis, which is more commonly caused by squeezing boils around the nose.

Can you Harm your Brain by Picking your Nose

Some may believe that if we stick our fingers far enough up our nose that we will eventually puncture the brain. This is a common misconception, but the fact is, our finger wouldn’t be long enough to reach that far if it could. In a hypothetical situation, let’s just say for a minute that you could get your finger that far up your nose. If it were long enough to make it past the nasal passages, then it would be in the sinuses.  The sinuses are like a cavern, they are just air filled spaces that reside behind the nose and cheeks. Then beyond our sinuses you would eventually reach the cribriform plate.  This plate actually makes part of the ethmoid bone in your skull.  This would be the end of the road for your finger.  So medically it is impossible to reach your brain while picking your nose. Even though some people look as though they will by the fierceness of their digging!

So this is a habit I definitely wouldn’t recommend anyone start doing. But I have to say, I don’t think anyone would be able to say they had never picked their nose. Sometimes it’s necessary to do it, but please what ever you do, do it in privacy. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to wash your hands before and after the act as well, if at all possible.

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10 thoughts on “Is it Safe to Pick your Nose?
  1. hello everybody
    Really surprizing story. I am going to see my noze differently now .

    thanks for this post

    1. We don’t usually think about things like this, they are more matters of habit. But it’s kind of cool to know what is actually going on in there.

  2. Thanks for the post. I agree that you can not hurt your brain by picking your nose. I want to help understand that picking your nose is not good for you. I will let him know that he can puncture a blood vessel in his nose.

    1. Thanks for reading Nathan. If you must dig it’s always a good idea to be careful, harming the small vessels in your nose is always a possibility.

  3. So it grosses you out, but only harms the person picking. This sounds like social stigma to me. Too many people on this planet have too many ideals for me to judge an individual, in my vicinity. For something that doesn’t affect me. It’s better he/she ate it. Better then rubbing it on the window. At least they cept it to themselfs. So they did it in public, he had all right. As you had the right to watch.

    1. lol, well obviously by the name you left “Some Kid” you must be just that. There is a thing called manners, and when people are taught them, they should know that doing repulsive things like that in public is not giving any thought to the people around you. If so many people didn’t think it was wrong to dig dirt and mucous out of you nose while in public, then i might agree with you. But as we all know, getting along with others and consideration for their feelings is very important in getting through life successfully. Would someone have the right to pick their nose in public, yes…but does that make it right? Well, I suppose that would be up for debate depending on a persons moral integrity. Thanks for the words of discussion though, I mean no harm in what I say, but I love a good debate 🙂

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