Nose picking: the good, the bad, the ugly

Nose picking

Have you ever sat on the train and watched someone pick their nose, completely aware that other people can see them? They have that stubby finger crammed far up their nostril, desperately scrapping away as though their going to find something good. You watch in awe as they just keep picking. Eventually they’ve been going on for so long that when they finally stop you sigh to yourself going, thank goodness that’s now out of my vision; but they switch nostrils, and then the horrify part. They discover what they’ve been thoroughly searching for, and then quickly stick the same finger in their mouth.

I can feel your cringe.

Why has this become such a cringeworthy thing though? Asides from the fact that it’s disgusting to  look at, what is it exactly you’re consuming when you find that gooey green treasure in your nose? That’s what we’re going to investigate.

Your nose is a host to billions of bacteria. No matter what you do to avoid this, your nose will always remain like this. It is an opening of the body allowing bacteria in, and snot (boogers, mucous etc.) is produced by the mucus glands found within the mucus cavity and traps the bacteria entering the nose. Think of it as an line of defensive for your body on the inside.

So what types of bacteria is found in the nose? Most of these are found within your nose and other parts of the body.

It’s very common to be found in the nose and rarely turn into something harmful. In very basic and crude terms, this bacteria cause minor infection which helps build up our immune system.

This is also very commonly known as Golden Staph, and is my greatest fear as far as diseases go. This little nasty is not only common, but is carried in the nose or on the skin of about 20-30% of the human population is a host carrier. It’s highly contagious, and can often be mistaken for another infection such as pneumonia or meningitis. It’s also common for it to develop drug resistance. This is known as Multi Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA). It’s because of this disease that hand washing, disinfectant hand gel, and protective suits and aprons are strongly encouraged within hospitals.

Basically this cause pneumonia. It is commonly found in the mouth and throat, but because the nasal passage shares the throat with the oral cavity, it’s not completely unheard of to find this bacteria within the nose.

This bacteria normally resides within our digestive tracts, but can be transmitted by food or even from person to person through contact. It can give you diarrhea or attack the immune system. So think every time you shake someone’s hand or grab a door knob at school, you’re picking up new bacteria. Then when you go to pick your nose, your transferring that new bacteria to the nose. Now think about that when you decide to eat your boogers.

There are many different strands of mycobacteria, but the two of the most well known causes are tuberculosis (TB) and leprosy. They live in food and water and colonise their host, normally showing no signs or symptoms.

Now these are just a few, but is it good or bad to pick our nose?

In an article written by Michael Thomas, he goes on to explain that nose picking can be good because it can effectively clean out your nostrils and reach places that a tissue or handkerchief wouldn’t. He also explains that eating your own snot will help build your immune system. Now I do agree that this will help, but with the amount of nasties that are found on your hands before you’ve even thought about washing, in combination with the boogers in your nose just sounds awful.

Throughout your entire respiratory and digestive system you will find mucus of some kind. Not only does it defend against bacteria, but it also helps lubricates your inner workings. You should allow your nose to get rid of the mucus naturally and only blow your nose when it’s beginning to drip. Picking your nose can also damage surfaces cells in the nose and can cause nose bleeds from scrapping it clean.

So even though nose picking can technically be good and bad for you, are you willing to participate?

Stay beautiful.



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