What About Nose Picking?

While scrolling through my Twitter feed, I came across an article from Lifehacker called “Why You Probably Shouldn’t Pick Your Nose“.  This post essentially is highlighting a video from Business Insider and the video itself features Dr. Erich Voigt, an otolaryngologist at NYU Langone who talks about why it’s not a good idea to pick your nose. I don’t have much of a problem with the video itself because I think it’s informative. However it does not address the issue of nose picking as a body-focused repetitive behavior.

It’s good to know some of the science about why nose picking is not healthy (because it may introduce germs into your body). But they don’t address that it’s a compulsion for many people and they cannot stop doing it. Compulsive nose picking is called rhinotillexomania and it’s not well known how common it is. Wikipedia has this:

“…some surveys indicate that it is almost universal, with people picking their nose on average about four times a day.”

I recommend reading the Wikipedia article but it’s not perfect either. Whether it’s a compulsion for some, it appears that nose picking is almost universal. People don’t like to admit to doing it. People hide it and are shamed if they are ever caught doing it in public. There’s also a sense of disgust to nose picking (and other BFRBs but that’s another story). Here’s the first paragraph from the Lifehacker article:

“Picking your nose probably won’t kill you, but it’s not exactly a healthy habit either. Not only does picking your nose look gross, it could be leaving the door open for dangerous bacteria that want to call your nose home.”

I cringed when I read the word “gross” and “habit”. Words like these can further stigmatize those who have BFRBs and drive them further into shame, silence and secrecy. I wish the video would have addressed nose picking as a compulsion and as a BFRB. I also wish that I did not read any of the comments to the post or to the YouTube video.

People who are “caught” picking their nose in public are often shamed and called “gross”. There are scenes in movies and books where nose picking is considered gross too. I hate seeing things like BFRBs being portrayed negatively but don’t know what can be done to change this. Raising awareness and speaking out is one way perhaps.