The reason nose picking is a worse habit than you think

Picking your nose looks weird if you do it around other people, and most people don’t do this past early childhood once they realize it’s not exactly socially acceptable. However, even if you’re all by yourself, you probably shouldn’t root around in your nostrils, either. Picking your nose is a bad habit and not just for social reasons — it’s bad for your health, too.

There are a couple of ways nose picking can be unhygienic and could be physically bad for you. For starters, digging around in your nose with a finger opens your nostrils up to scratches and scrapes from your fingernail (via Time). Dr. Brett Comer, a head and neck surgeon and assistant professor of otolaryngology at the University of Kentucky, said that the skin that resides inside your nose is delicate and can be damaged more easily than other skin.

Even worse, once you have a cut inside your nostril, it can take forever to heal, and sometimes, a scab inside your nose is irresistible if you’re already in the habit of picking your boogers. “You feel it, and you pick again, which reopens the wound and creates more scabbing, and so you keep picking,” says Comer. “It’s a vicious cycle.”

Health woes from picking your nose

Also, picking your nose means you’re literally shoving your fingers inside your nostrils — fingers that are very likely not 100 percent clean and sterile. Dr. Vijay Ramakrishnan, an associate professor of otolaryngology at the University of Colorado, says that the undersides of fingernails are chock full of bacteria, so if you have open wounds inside your schnoz, they might become infected.

Even if you don’t have abrasions inside your nose, you could be packing your snout full of viruses or bacteria (courtesy of the already-mentioned dirty fingernails). This can give these germs easy access to your innards and could set you up for a cold, influenza, or something even worse. 

Picking your nose may not be socially acceptable, but even if you mine your beak in private for whatever reason, you could be causing yourself health issues. Try to cut down on nose picking if possible, and keep in mind how much bacteria could be teeming on the underside of your fingernails if you’re having trouble kicking the habit. 

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