I have never met a person who has not picked his or her nose sometime in the past. Although picking our nose is taboo in today’s society and
considered disgusting, people pick their noses to remove infected crusting that is irritating them or to remove scabbing as a result of nasal dryness and bleeding. These crusts and scabs are blocking your breathing, making you uncomfortable. So it is good to get them out. The best way to do it is with a tissue or to blow it out.

From a medical point of view, the worst part about picking your nose is putting your dirty fingers into your otherwise clean nose. So my first suggestion is that you wash your hands before you pick your nose. In light of current etiquette, others do not want to watch you do this, so you should probably do it in private. Using a tissue over your finger is also probably a good idea.

If you are frequently plagued by the need to remove stuff from your nose, you might want to try a nasal spray and/or antibiotic ointment like Neosporin, Bactroban, or Bacitracin to soften up the chronic crusts and scabs. Apply it with a tissue or a cotton swab. Wait a few minutes and then try to blow it out. If you remove a scab, it will probably bleed again. The best treatment for this is to apply ointment to the site after removing the scab, which will decrease the new scab formation. It will also keep it clean. Reapplication of the ointment will keep the scab soft and allow it to heal quickly.

Often, I will meet concerned parents who are worried about their child picking his or her nose. I explain that their child is doing what most adults do, but without proper hygiene. They should teach their children to wrap a tissue around their finger before they insert it into their nose. Using a vaporizer or humidifier in the winter will help reduce crusting and scabbing, which will reduce their need to pick their nose. Lastly, most children can apply ointment or spray their nose with saline, both of which can soften crusts and scabs. Many children successfully irrigate with a neti pot or a nasal irrigator.

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