Constantly Picking Your Nose? Here Are Easy Ways to Stop

Do you know someone who picks their nose all the time? Rhinotillexomania is the compulsive habit of picking your nose. Around 90% of people admit to picking their noses. Outside of being gross, nose-picking can be unhygienic. Learn more about nose picking and how to stop below.



Resisting the urge: easy tips to stop picking your nose

The nose knows: common reasons for nose picking

Breaking down the risks: can nose picking be harmful?

Little pickers: nose picking and children

Easy tips to stop picking your nose

If you are finding yourself picking your nose constantly, it can be embarrassing to get caught. Moreover, picking your nose regularly may disrupt the balance of your nose hygiene.

Good nasal hygiene can help prevent you from catching an illness, reduce irritation in the nasal cavity, and improve breathing through the nose. Blowing your nose when needed helps to remove irritants, like pollen and dust, that may trigger nose picking. Keeping your sinuses moist prevents the nasal cavity from drying out and becoming irritated, which causes a dry crust to form and creates the urge the pick.


Here are a few tips to stop picking your nose:

  1. Use a humidifier to keep your nasal passages from drying out. It creates a moist environment for your nose, preventing dryness and the urge to scrape at crusts.
  2. Use a saline nose spray found at most generic drug stores. It thins mucus and washes away irritants, reducing the tickle-inducing triggers that make you pick.
  3. Wash out your nasal passages with a neti pot to clear them. This will deep cleanse your nasal passages, flushing out irritants that might make you want to pick for relief.
  4. Take allergy medications to prevent allergies, if needed. This might help reduce allergy storms by controlling symptoms and reducing the urge to pick at itchiness and discomfort.
  5. Use a thin layer of lip balm or coconut oil on the inside of the nose. This creates a smooth shield, soothing dry areas and making them less tempting to pick at.
  6. Put a bandage or tape around your finger as a reminder not to use it to pick your nose. It acts as a physical reminder and visual trigger to stop the picking motion before it starts.

If easy at-home steps aren't helping you to stop picking your nose, you may need to contact your healthcare provider for further treatment options. If you get nose bleeds, sores, or other nasal injuries from the amount you pick your nose, you should also seek help from a professional.

Reasons why you are picking your nose

There are multiple reasons why someone may pick their nose. A common cause of nose picking is simply to remove boogers. Someone may have nasal conditions, such as allergies and irritation, from dust or pollen that causes an increase in boogers. A lack of moisture or dehydration can also irritate the nose.

Nasal structure irregularities may increase the likelihood that someone may pick their nose. An example of this is a deviated septum, with one nasal passage smaller than the other. This can be present at birth or be from an injury and cause irritation, dryness, and airflow obstruction, leading to congestion and triggering the urge to pick.

Compulsive nose picking

Excessive nose picking can be from a compulsive disorder called rhinotillexomania. It is an obsessive-self grooming behavior that is a type of body-focused repetitive behavior. Other common forms of this include nail biting or skin picking.

Rhinotillexomania can be caused by:

  • Genetics
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Medication side effects
  • Hormone changes

Individuals who develop compulsive habits may be recommended to undergo treatment options such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, meditation, and engage in habit-reversal behaviors.

Can nose picking be harmful?

Yes, too much nose picking can cause complications. While problems may not necessarily be serious, there is a chance of infection or injury to the nasal passages. There is also the risk that bacteria and other contaminants could be on your finger, which can lead to becoming sick with COVID-19 or the flu.

  1. Nose picking leads to a high chance of staphylococcus and other infections.
  2. Irritation from picking can lead to the rupture of blood vessels, causing nosebleeds.
  3. Sores can form in the nose, called nasal vestibules, and can be caused by staphylococcus.
  4. Pimples and boils can form in your nose from picking.
  5. Repeated picking can result in damage to the nasal cavity, leading to inflammation and swelling.
  6. It is possible to damage the septum and create sores in it.
  7. Nose picking increases the risk of developing respiratory illness.

Nose picking in children

Children may pick their noses for the same reason adults do. At a young age, they may not be aware of the stigma that comes along with nose picking. They may also be exploring their body and can even just be bored and playing with their nose.

A child should never be made to feel ashamed about picking their nose or exploring their body in a healthy manner. There are tactful ways to change a child’s behavior to help discourage them from continuing to pick their nose.

  • Encourage the child to blow their nose if you catch them picking it.
  • Explain why picking the nose is unhealthy.
  • Remind them gently not to pick their nose in public.
  • Use a saline nasal spray or a humidifier to keep the child's nasal passages moist.

In conclusion, understanding the underlying causes and health risks of nose picking is crucial for adults and children. By implementing practical tips, such as maintaining nasal hygiene, using saline sprays, and seeking professional advice when necessary, people can overcome this habit. The key to stopping nose picking is awareness, consistent care, and professional intervention when needed.


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