What Is a Booger, Actually?

Here’s what’s in that green stuff in your nose—and why it’s so important.

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You’ve seen ‘em. You’ve picked ‘em. You’ve blown ‘em out. You’ve known about boogers all your life, but have you ever thought about what they *actually* are and why they set up camp in your nose?

Boogers may be gross, but they’re actually healthy—and very important. To understand boogers and the role that they play, you first need to get to know mucus, a.k.a. snot.

From Mucus to Booger

Mucus is that gooey stuff that’s in your nose, airways, and digestive tract. (You know, that liquid that comes out when your nose is runny.) You may not realize it, but your nose and sinuses make about 1 liter (!!!) of snot every single day. (Here’s how to know if your runny nose is due to a cold or seasonal allergies.)

Mucus is actually a defense system, designed to keep you from getting sick. Mucus keeps your nose and airways moist and protects your lungs. Throughout the day you breathe in a lot of unwanted foreign invaders, such as dust, germs, dirt, and pollen. If all that got into your lungs, it’d make you sick. (Learn more about what the color of your snot says about your health.) 

Mucus traps all that gook and hangs onto tiny hairs in your nose called cilia. These hairs help move the mucus either toward the front of your nose so it can come out, or to the back of the throat so you can swallow it.

Mucus may also collect more dirt and debris, and then dry up and clump together. Guess what that is? Yup, a booger.

Even though boogers are normal and healthy, they may not be your favorite fashion accessory. The best way to get rid of them? Blow them out.

Although it may be tempting, try not to pick your nose (your fingers may have germs on them). Learn more about why you shouldn’t pick your nose