These are the serious health reasons why you shouldn't eat your boogers

These are the serious health reasons why you shouldn't eat your boogers

As kids, a lot of us had some questionably unhygienic habits. Some of us probably thought it was a great idea to bite our fingernails, or or wipe our runny noses on our sleeves, or play in the dirt for hours with our bare hands. But only the grossest among us indulged in that truly horrendous act: eating our own boogers.

Now, I'm not usually one for judging kids too harshly, but if I see a child chowing down on some nose nuggets, I will not hesitate for a second to tell them that, actually, they are a god-tier level of nasty. And if I ever witness an adult doing it, I might just straight-up vomit on the spot.

Even those who engage in this behaviour themselves must realise that it's at least a little bit disgusting; how could they not? What they may not realise, however, is that munching on your own boogers comes with some serious health risks.

man blowing nose Credit: Getty

To understand why eating the contents of your nose is bad for you, you really only need to know what boogers actually are.

In basic terms, they are germ traps. They're formed of mucus that's become loaded with all the pathogens you've inhaled throughout the day - pathogens that your body wants to prevent getting into the rest of your body. The mucus itself isn't harmful, but everything else trapped inside it is.

By eating that lovely mucus ball, then, you are essentially consuming all the bacteria that your body worked really hard to keep out.

nose sign Credit: Pexels

What's more, one 2006 study actually found that those who pick their nose are actually more likely to carry Staphylococcus aureus (usually referred to simply as 'staph'). "Nose picking is associated with S. aureus nasal carriage," the study said. "The role of nose picking in nasal carriage may well be causal in certain cases. Overcoming the habit of nose picking may aid S. aureus decolonization strategies."

The staph bacteria can hide under your fingernails, meaning that - when you dig deep inside your nasal cavity - you can transfer it to a more vulnerable part of your body. If a staph infection develops, you could develop serious abscesses or pus-filled pockets inside your nose and on your face. In some of the worst cases, people have punctured their septums or worn holes in their sinuses, exposing themselves to potentially life-threatening bacteria.

woman blowing nose Credit: Pexels

Weirdly enough, though, some scientists have suggested that eating boogers might actually help to boost the immune system, as it allows the body to fight off small amounts of bacteria they might otherwise never encounter. This is just a theory, however, and has yet to be proven.

Overall, then, picking and eating your boogers doesn't seem worth running the risk of a bacterial infection - especially not one that could (in extreme cases) become fatal. Instead, you ought to get into the habit of blowing your nose on the regular.

Oh, and while we're giving out incredibly obvious health advice: remember to wash your hands frequently, floss after brushing, and don't eat yellow snow. It ain't difficult.