Poking aroundinside our nostrilsis disgusting, unhygienic and potentially harmful, so it’s bafflingthat it’s as common as it is?
Most of us doit, but few of us will admit to it. If we getcaught red-handed,we experience shame and regret. And we tend to frown upon otherswhen they do it in public. I'm talking, of course, about reachingup into your nostrils with a finger in an effort to scrapeout snot.Would anybody ever decide to see what snot tastes like?
The formalmedical term used to describe the act of picking one's nose is“rhinotillexomania”. The first systematic scientific study of thephenomenon may have been undertaken as recently as 1995, by a pairof US researchers named Thompson and Jefferson. They sent a surveyby mail to 1,000 adult residents of Dane County,Wisconsin。
Of the 254that responded, a whopping 91% of their respondents confessed topicking their noses, while only 1.2% could admit to doing it atleast once each hour. Two subjects indicated that their nasalmining habits interfered with their daily lives (moderately tomarkedly). And, to their surprise, two other people reported somuch nose picking that they had actually picked a hole rightthrough their nasal septum,the thin tissue that separates the left and rightnostrils。
In a 2006study, a group of Dutch researchers found that nose picking canhelp bacterial infections get around. They discovered that nosepickers at an ear, nose, and throat clinic were more likely tocarry Staphylococcus aureus bacteria in their noses thannon-pickers。
So, given allthese risks, and the potential for provoking disgust in otherpeople, why do we still do it? There are no clear answers, but asTom Stafford wrote recently about nail-biting, perhaps it’s acombination of the simple satisfaction we derive from‘tidying-up’ and the fact that our nose is within easy reach allthe time – in other words, we pick it ‘becauseit’s there’。
Or perhapsnose picking is just evidence of laziness. Fingers, after all, arenever in short supply when you feel the urge to clear yournostrils. Which is more than can be said about a box oftissues。
It'sgratifying to know that some researchers are still trying tounderstand the reasons we pick our noses and the consequences thatarise from it。