Parents: If you’ve caught your kids eating boogers from time to time, you might wonder: are boogers good for you? Or should you be worried? Keep reading to learn what the experts have to say!
Ok, I’ll admit it. My kid eats boogers.
When I asked her why, she just shrugged and said simply, “because they taste good.”
As much as I try to discourage her, I still see my daughter “digging for gold” every now and then. So I started to wonder, should I be worried if my kid eats boogers?
Are boogers good for you?
Edit 5/4/19: A correction was made directly in this story at the request of an independent fact checker for Facebook. I want to clarify that I wrote this to be a humorous piece, not medical advice. My kid picks her nose sometimes – lots of kids do – and my post is all in good fun.
What are Boogers Made of?
Boogers begin as mucus, a clear slimy substance inside our nasal passage. Mucus is primarily made of water, but it traps small particles that we breathe in: dust, pollen, and even germs. This keeps those yucky irritants from entering our lungs and potentially making us sick.
Some of the mucus goes down the back of the throat — so we’re all unintentionally ingesting boogers throughout the day! The rest gets pushed towards the front of the nostrils by tiny hairs inside the nose known as cilia. As the mucus gets closer to incoming air, it dries out into clumps that we affectionately call boogers. (Source)
Why do kids eat boogers?
If boogers are full of dirt and other yucky stuff, then why do kids eat them?
Believe it or not, it’s the flavor!
Dried mucus can taste salty or even a bit sweet.
So when your child claims that boogers taste good, they might not be lying!
Are Boogers Good for You?
Just like dirt builds our immune system, it’s possible that boogers serve a similar function.
Dirt and bacteria trapped in mucus may help train strengthen our immune system so that it can fight off other illnesses down the road.
Scientists who subscribe to this theory, dubbed the “hygiene hypothesis,” believe that early exposure is beneficial and that keeping things “too clean” and sterile can be detrimental.
When our bodies come in contact with germs and bacteria at an early age, our immune response is created and strengthened. Essentially, this is how our bodies learn how to fight off harmful microbes.
So it follows that by eating their boogers, which contain dirt and germs, your child is building a stronger immune system and may be healthier as an adult.
There is limited research to back up this idea, but at the same time, it is doubtful that boogers are harmful.
Parents, “Pick” Your Battles
(See what I did there??)
Kids pick their noses. They just do. You probably did too when you were a kid.
The good news is that it’s likely a habit they’ll grow out of on their own — or at least not do in public.
In the meantime, since they’re probably going to do it anyway, might as well teach kids how to do it right.
Yes, there really is a “right” way to pick your nose!
Pediatricians advise that kids learn to remove boogers from their nose with a tissue, instead of their fingers. (We love “Boogie Wipes“ which are wet saline wipes that gently clean sensitive noses). Not only does this reduce the risk of accidentally scratching the inside of the nose, but it keeps germs off kids’ hands too.
Most importantly, kids should always wash hands thoroughly after blowing their nose so they won’t spread germs to others.
If your kid likes to eat their boogers, it’s likely no cause for concern, and in fact may actually be good for them!
I’m sure down the road my daughter will cave in to society’s norms and stop eating her boogers, like we all do…at least I think we all do.
But for now I’ll “pick” my battles, and boogers aren’t the bad guy.
Disclaimer: This post is meant to be good fun, and not medical advice.