Kids are curious beings who have a habit of sticking their fingers into places they don’t belong. Their noses are treasure-laden caves crying out to be explored, and their fingers are the intrepid tomb raiders hunting for riches and glory.
This devotion to nose-spelunking is why kids between the ages of 2 and 10 are more likely to get nosebleeds than any other age group.
The good news is that nosebleeds resulting from nose picking is very common, even for adults; the bad news is that a little blood probably isn’t going to stop your adventurous toddler from future explorations.
Why Does Nose Picking Cause Bleeding?
The inside of your nose is filled with delicate blood vessels and when you poke your finger in there and rummage around, these can rupture.
Fingernails are sharp and if they’re poorly maintained they may have jagged edges. Introduce these lethal weapons in such a poorly protected region and you may cause damage. Of course, that’s not true for everyone, and some people are more susceptible than others, but without proper care, everyone can suffer from nosebleeds as a result of nose picking.
If you’ve recently had a cold or other viral infection, or your nose is very cold and dry, you are even more susceptible as those fine capillaries are weaker.
Don’t Noses Need to be Picked?
It’s a disgusting habit, one that every parent has warned their child against and one that few people are willing to do in public. But isn’t it essential to pick your nose? After all, that dried mucus has to go somewhere, right?
Well, believe it or not, many experts warn against picking your nose, and not just because they can’t bring themselves to look at you while you do it.
They argue that nose picking increases the risk of nosebleeds and potentially long-lasting damage. It also introduces bacteria into your nose and, if you damage the lining, that bacteria could cause serious damage.
Many habitual nosepickers create a small wound inside their nose and experience a chronic cycle of picking the scab, bleeding, scabbing over, and repeating. This is actually one of the main causes of chronic nosebleeds in children.
The “boogers” inside your nose are the result of dried mucous and if you spend a lot of time indoors with the heating on, you may have more of these than usual. The simplest way to get rid of them, however, is to use a humidifier or nasal spray. You can also inhale steam, as that will help to soften the hardened mucus and clear it from your nose.
It’s why your nose tends to run when you have a hot bath or shower.
How to Stop Kids Picking their Nose
If you tell an adult that nose picking is giving them nosebleeds and introducing bacteria, it’s often enough to stop them in their tracks. The same isn’t true for kids, however. After all, bacteria are basically just a condiment to them, and a little bit of blood isn’t anything to worry about either.
If you’re worried about your child’s nose picking habits and the potential damage it’s doing to their nose (and your walls, sofas, and wherever else they decide to discard their loot) try the following tips:
Keep Them Hydrated
If there are fewer boogers for them to pick, they may spend less time rummaging around. Make sure they drink plenty of water and don’t spend too long in dry environments.
Keep their Hands Clean
It’s important to encourage hand washing before and after they pick their noses, otherwise they will get sick. No child wants to be sick, especially if it means spending less time with friends and doing the things they enjoy, so be honest with them.
Not only will this help to keep their clothes booger-free and their noses bacteria-free, but the ritual of washing before and after may discourage them from doing it in the first place.
Give them Tissues
You know what it’s like when your nose is stuffy and you feel like a good “pick” is required. Children are no different, except they have less restraint and don’t always understand what’s disgusting and what’s acceptable.
Encourage them to avoid picking in public and to use a handkerchief or tissue instead.
Look for the Signs
Some kids pick their noses when they are anxious, others do it when they are bored, and some may be producing more mucus than others or have problems with itchiness. Finding the cause and triggers will help you to discover a solution.
Trim their Nails
Keep their nails trim at all times, thus preventing damage to the nose and reducing the build-up of bacteria. Fingernails tend to accumulate a lot of dirt and bacteria, especially with children, and by trimming the nails you’ll keep all of that to a minimum and protect their noses when they inevitably start picking.