How Bad Is It to Pick Your Nose?

Health experts want you to grab a tissue.

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We won’t point any fingers, but let’s be honest: Picking your nose is pretty darn common. As much as we wrinkle our noses at nose-pickers, a lot of us still do it (yes—doing it in secret still counts!).

It turns out, picking your nose is more than simply a matter of propriety. If public opinion hasn’t convinced you to simply grab a tissue, perhaps health experts can.

Each time your hands touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, you’re probably exposing yourself to the germs on your hand. You do not have to directly interact with an infected person to get those germs on your hand, either. Health experts say cold and flu germs can live on surfaces for hours. For example, your hands can pick up germs from opening doors, picking food off the floor, holding bus or subway poles, or using a shared computer.

What does that have to do with picking your nose? If your hands come in contact with infected germs, that seemingly harmless nose-picking could provide a private ride directly into your body through your nostril. The germs barely have to put in any effort.

Then, if you don’t wash your hands after you pick your nose (and who does?), you might share your own germs with others by touching surfaces with your germy hands.

Your go-to solution should be to use a tissue (or handkerchief, if you’re classy like that) whenever possible. Washing your hands regularly (especially after using the bathroom, wiping your nose, or touching frequently handled surfaces) is also key.

Check out this video for more tips on preventing the flu.