Health & Wellness

There’s A Good, Scientific Argument For Why Nobody Should Pick Their Nose And Eat It

The human body is a fascinating , and oftentimes disgusting , thing to study .

While everyone has their own unique way of going about things, certain elements of the human condition are universal: we eat when we’re hungry, drink when we’re thirsty, sleep when we’re tired, and — if no one is around and there’s no Kleenex in sight — we eat our own boogers.

Turns out we shouldn’t, and not just because it’s gross.

Do you eat your own boogers?

Unsplash | Jametlene Reskp

Yeah, it’s gross, but that’s kind of where we’re going with this story. You might not pick your nose and then eat it, but statistically speaking, you probably do: a 1995 study found that more than 90% of participants did just that.

What’s your snot composed of?

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons | Patrick J. Lynch
Wikimedia Commons | Patrick J. Lynch

It’s nothing too wild, just stuff that comes from your body. Your average booger is composed of water and proteins that help ward off infection. These proteins take the physical form of a gooey or gel-like consistency.

So why shouldn’t you do this?

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons | Scientific Animations
Wikimedia Commons | Scientific Animations

It all comes down to the germ-fighting proteins, which help ensnare bad germs and just kind of hold them there rather than letting them enter the body and cause chaos. If you think about it this way, it starts to make sense.

It’s like flypaper for the body.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons | BruceBlaus
Wikimedia Commons | BruceBlaus

Your snot contains not just water and proteins, but also the germs that it helped ensnare. That means that removing it from your body, only to have it re-enter your body through swallowing, introduces those germs into your body.

Just leave them alone.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons | TheNoseKnows2Much
Wikimedia Commons | TheNoseKnows2Much

There’s nothing wrong with blowing your nose if things are getting too snotty. Your snot will regenerate and help fight off infection. The point is that once your snot has successfully captured germs, you really don’t want to ingest it.

Is picking your nose safe?

Image credit: Giphy | BBC
Giphy | BBC

It’s kind of gross, but it’s better than eating your snot. That said, it isn’t totally safe — you run the risk of scratching up the inside of your nose, with can lead to staph infections. A 2006 study found that those who pick their nose are more susceptible to staph infections.

What’s the best practice advice?

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons | M Yashna
Wikimedia Commons | M Yashna

Let’s be real here: picking your nose isn’t going to automatically cause a staph infection, and picking your nose and eating it isn’t going to automatically make you sick. But you do run the risk of these things happening, even if it is a small risk.

Thank your boogers for what they do for you.

Image credit: Giphy | Mauro Gatti
Giphy | Mauro Gatti

Most of us probably don’t want to spend too much time thinking about snot (in that case, congrats on making it this far into the article). But it’s worth reflecting on the ways that your snot can trap germs before they have a chance to infect you.

Do you feel seen?

Image credit: Giphy

Again, if statistics are any indication, most people have eaten their boogers before. If you’re part of this silent majority, how do you feel about what you’ve just read? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section.

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