The Deadly Effects of Picking Your Nose

Not only is picking your nose funny, but it might also be doing more than you know. Your nose might have bacteria in the pores of cells that are too small for us to see. These bacteria can release nitric oxide, which can cause blood vessels to contract and expand. The result is greater blood flow, which could account for why people with chronically dry noses tend to have fewer wrinkles on their faces. It’s not certain whether bacteria are involved, or if something else is.

We have all been there, that instance when you feel the urge to pick your nose so bad. It might be out of boredom, nervousness, or even a health condition, but the fact remains that we have all been there. But have you ever stopped and wondered if nose-picking makes your nose bigger? Think it deeply, use general science- does picking your nose make it bigger?

If you have, then we have all the answers that you might need to that question. In this article, we shall cover the effects of picking your nose. We shall dig deep into the myth that “picking your nose makes it bigger” and try to find facts to either support it or not. Hence follow along as we unravel this interesting topic.

Does Picking Your Nose Make It Bigger?

Nose-picking is defined as the human act of extracting mucus, nasal, using one finger. The act may also include ingesting the extracted mucus, also known as Mucophagy. The action is condemned in a lot of cultures. Societies from all over the world try to prevent the development of this habit. If already established, then they try to stop it at all costs.

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However, many scientists suggest that the ingestion of mucus has some health benefits to the human body. But is it true, does picking your nose and ingesting the nasal mucus have health benefits? Or does it cause harm to your body? We shall find out later on in this article.

The Reason Why People Pick their Nose

Nose picking too many come as a habit of curiosity. A study carried out back in 1995 via questionnaires had the following results:

  • 91% of the people who answered their questionnaires reported that they do it.
  • 75% of the people who answered their questionnaires actually thought that every other person does it.

Hence according to these numbers, you can already see that many people stuff their fingers up their noses sometimes. But what causes this urge to pick your nose?

Well, the reasons as to why people pick their noses differ from one person to another. However, most people who pick their nose fall under one of these categories:

  • Nervousness and boredom – some people tend to pick their noses to cope with their nervousness. Hence if this happens to you, then know that it happens to a lot of people. Others do the act to reduce boredom.
  • Nose moisture level – the level of nose moisture determines how often a person picks their nose. Hence if your nose is pretty moist, then you might feel the urge to pick it. On the other hand, a rather dry nose can also be irritating; hence you tend to pick it to relieve the discomfort.
  • Sinus infections and allergies – Allergic reactions and sinus infections can boost the mucus level in your nose. They hence increase the probability of you picking your nose.
  • Repetitive and compulsive behavior – though it is not popular, nose-picking can be a compulsive and pretty repetitive behavior. The behavior is mainly triggered by anxiety and stress. The condition that causes this behavior is known as Rhinotillexomania. People dealing with this condition relieve their stress and anxiety by picking their noses.
  • Habit – well, a lot of people fall under this category. Most people have grown the habit of picking their nose such that it has become hard to stop doing it.

The Effects of Picking Your Nose

Nose picking has a lot of effects, some major, some minor. We shall look at all of them in-depth. To start us off, let us look at the “picking your nose makes it bigger” myth.

Nose Picking and Nose Size Relation

When looked at from a psychological perspective, picking your nose does reduce the number of people who want to be around you. However, it does not have any effects on your nose size at all. Hence it remains a myth that parents tell their children to get them to stop picking their noses.

According to a Doctor. Shervin Naderi, based in Washington DC, nose-picking does not reshape your nose or nostrils. Hence you can rest easy.

The only way a human’s nose can be reshaped is via the surgical reconstruction of the noses’ cartilage and bone. However, you might argue that the noses’ skin is usually stretched during a nose-picking session. Connecting this to the many lips and ear stretching traditions that tend to make these parts bigger. And other operations that involve using specific techniques to stretch out the skin. You might conclude that nose-picking makes your nose bigger, but this is not the case.

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However, to misshape or stretch out your nose, you would have to pick it pretty constantly. I am sure you are thinking of a person who constantly picks their nose right about now. Well, for their nose to reshape or get bigger, they would have to pick their nose pretty consistently. I mean, all day all the time, from dawn to dusk, having their fingers up their noses for months sounds impossible, right. That is because it pretty much is unless you really like picking your nose.

Picking Your Nose and Nostril Asymmetry

Another issue that bugs a lot of people is the nostril asymmetry via nose-picking. Simply put, does nose-picking cause nostril asymmetry, where one nostril becomes bigger than the other. Well, since we have seen that nose-picking does not affect the nose or nostril size and shape. Then that implies that nostril asymmetry via nose picking is pretty much not a thing.

Nostril asymmetry occurs due to a congenital condition or a septum deviation. If you do not constantly stretch or forcibly pull your nose, then your nostril shape and size cannot be affected.

The nostril asymmetry condition can be solved surgically. Hence if you have this condition, it would be best to see a plastic surgeon if you want the issue fixed.

Things That Make Your Nose Change Size and Shape

There are unarguably many reasons why your nose has changed its size, shape, or both. Here are the most common ones:

  • Age – as you grow old, your nose ultimately becomes bigger. Hence your nose is not the same size it was when you were one year old.
  • Excessive build-up of skin can lead to nose enlargement.
  • Collagen and elasticity – Constant stretching of your nose causes size and shape change, as discussed earlier. Emphasis on the term constant.

Does Picking Your Nose Cause Nose Bleeding?

Anything that you insert into your nostrils can lead to irritation which can ultimately lead to nose bleeding. Hence even picking your nose using your finger increases your chances of nose bleeding.

There are blood vessels found in the inside layer of your nose. Hence when you pick your nose, you constantly erode this vessel. After a while, the vessels become pretty eroded such that they break, which leads to nose bleeding.

Shoving your long-nailed finger into your nose might also cause instant damage to the nose vessels. Such an occurrence causes an instant nose bleed; hence avoid picking your nose using long nails.

Dry air caused by either low humidity and a hot climate or a pretty heated indoor air boosts the nose-picking-nose-bleeding reaction. When the air becomes dry, so does your nasal membrane (tissues that are rather delicate in your nose). The nasal membranes become cracked or crusty making them vulnerable. Hence when you pick your nose at this instance, then you are more likely to nose bleed.

Nose bleeding due to picking your nose is hence not a myth passed on by your parents. It is an actual condition that occurs.

Does Nose-Picking Cause Infections

When you pick your nose, the probability of leaving a small cut in the inner nasal tissue is pretty high. Potentially harmful bacteria can then find their way into your body via this opening, causing infections.

According to a 2006 study, people who pick their noses have a higher chance of carrying the Staphylococcus bacteria. The bacteria can lead to severe infection if not treated.

Spreading Illnesses

Nasal mucus plays a pretty important role in the human body. It traps bacteria, dust, and viruses that you breathe each day. However, when you pick your nose, you come into contact with these viruses and bacteria. Hence if you do not wash your hands, then you might pass them on to another person.

Did you know that you could spread the bacteria responsible for pneumonia via a nose pick? If you do not clean your hand correctly after picking your nose, you might harm a person’s health.

Damage to the Nasal Cavity

Repetitive or frequent nose picking can ultimately damage your nose’s cavity. Hence, what you might be doing to reduce boredom can ultimately harm you too!

A study identified that most individuals having compulsive-nose-picking also known as rhinotillexomania, sometimes experience:

  1. Inflammations
  2. Nasal tissue swelling

Over time, the two responses may lead to the narrowing of your nostril opening.

Nose Picking and Covid-19

The pandemic has caused chaos worldwide, and we cannot help but wonder how it affects nose-picking.

As a precaution, people wear a mask to prevent the spread of covid-19. Another precaution states that you should avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes—emphasis on the nose. Picking your nose is no different from touching it. It is actually more extreme as compared to merely touching your nose. You hence have a higher chance of contracting the covid-19 virus if you pick your nose with unclean hands.

Hence, unless you are sure that your hands are clean, well sanitized, avoid picking your nose.

Benefits of Picking Your Nose

Well, even though most people find nose picking to be gross, it has some benefits.

Bat in the Cave Benefits

We all hate it when our friends tell us that there is a “bat in the cave.” However, guess what can help you avoid this embarrassment? You guessed it right, nose-picking. When you nose-pick, you get rid of some excess boogers that can embarrass you, especially if they are visible.

Health Benefit

Some scientists argue that eating your boogers leads to a boost in your immune system, and yes, it is true. Well, see, we ingest our mucus unconsciously each day, and in doing so, we boost our immune system. However, the mucus we consume unconsciously does not come into contact with our fingers. When you bring your hands into the equation, the whole balance changes.

Your hands carry a lot of germs, bacteria, and viruses. Hence if you eat your mucus from them, then you might get an infection.

Hence, in terms of health benefits, eating your mucus is beneficial. However, you have to ensure that your hands are clean for this to work. Otherwise, you will be doing the exact opposite.

As an extra precaution, you can pick your nose using tissue to reduce the risk of infection.

Conclusion

Nose picking has a lot of effects on the human body. However, when it comes to making the human nose bigger, then that is where most people go wrong. Unless an individual constantly picks their nose, then they are safe.

Dr Ahmed Zayed

Dr. Ahmed Zayed holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. He has completed his degree at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Dr. Ahmed believes in providing knowledgeable information to readers. Other than his passion for writing, Dr. Ahmed spends his time outside the hospital, either reading or at the gym.

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