Stop Picking Your Nose

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Do you have a habitual need to pick your nose, even to the point where you have started excusing yourself for doing it in public?! It is time to stop this unhygienic and less-than-pleasant-to-view habit right now. It starts with accepting that you have a nose-picking habit and then being determined to arrest it right now. and its all the dirt and bugs that you have picked up during the day.


  1. Accept the problem. If you are picking your nose regularly, own up to it. A habit is something that we tend to stop noticing over time and just accept as the norm. Nose-picking without thinking about it is a bad habit that soon creeps into the public sphere as you justify it as "just a little pick", or "people won't notice". People do notice and they don't appreciate it.
  2. Work out what triggers your need to pick your nose. If it is a habit, it is likely to have become a comfortable habit and is most likely a form of reassurance or something to do with your hands. On the other hand, there are legitimate reasons that might have lead you to start picking your nose that then turn into a continued habit. For example, you may have had a medical condition that caused the nasal cavity to become itchy, or filled with debris that you just had to remove or go nuts putting up with. If the problem is ongoing, then it is time to see your medical professional to see what the issue might be. It could be a sign of something more serious stuck up your nose than just your fingers. On the other hand, if the trigger is merely comfortable habit and some childish glee that comes from it, it is time to move onto habit-breaking.
  3. Resolve to stop. Some say habits take 21 days to break. For the next 21 days you have a task to stop picking that nose and to find something else to do with your errant fingers. Here are some things to try:

    • Note the times and occasions when you are more likely to pick your nose. Is it in front of the TV, is it when you feel stressed, is it when you feel bored, is it when you just can't be bothered to go to the kitchen for a snack? Note the times and occasions and be prepared.
    • Affirm that you will stop. Do this every morning, noon, and night. Say to yourself out loud something like "My nose is clean. I am very busy with my hobby/TV program/teeth cleaning etc. so my nose is fine as it is." This is a positive affirmation. If you say something negative like "Don't pick your nose", you subconscious will jolly well make sure that you do. Avoid the negative don'ts and only use positive do's.
    • Leave yourself post-it notes around the place to remind you how clean your nose is.
    • Have alternatives. Give your fingers something else to do. Read a book and keep your fingers on the pages at all times. Eat some celery sticks and hummus when you're hungry. Play Wii, computer games, board games, or do memory puzzles. Write stories, checks to pay bills, or other activities that will occupy your hands and time. Deal with any stressors that lead to nose-picking instead of picking the nose. If you find you pick your nose at times you can't be busy (like going to bed or waking up) try wearing gloves. This will help stop yourself during the weak moment where your by yourself and you aren't thinking clearly.
    • Use a handkerchief. Remove the offending nasal object neatly, swiftly and be done with it. Blow your nose for good measure.
  4. Ask others to help you. Choose people whom you trust and are intimate friends and ask them to kindly restrain your nose-picking habit by pointing out gently to you each time they view it. Have a code word or signal, such as a finger tapping their nose as a gentle reminder rather than an uncouth "Stop pickin' ya nose will ya?".
  5. Use the power of thought to help you break the habit. For example:

    • Think about what you are doing to your nose when you pick it. Untold germs are being stuck up it every time you pick it. And possibly other particles. Not to mention chemicals if you work in such industries as spray-painting, manicures, hairdressing, printing, gas stations, etc. And if you handle money, really think twice before removing your finger straight from the money to the nose...
    • Think about what people see when you pick your nose. They see someone who is unrestrained and ill-mannered, untaught in the ways of public etiquette, unhygienic and slothful. It connotes lack of respect for oneself and self-indulgence. All good if these are what you are meaning to portray but probably neither courtship material nor star employment candidature.
  6. Just don't do it. Reverse the Nike formula and stop. Stop picking that nose of yours and let your nose breathe easy. It's time to smell the roses rather than your pinky. And if you can't do that, paint your finger tips with something smelly like anti-nail-biter solution. Put your nose off.
  7. Keep it inconspicuous if you must do it. If you really, really can't resist, at least do it where nobody else can see you, or pick it inconspicuously. See "Warnings" if you just can't stop; there may be a medical condition involved.
  8. One way out Every time you go to washroom make it a point to remove mucous from nostrils. The more you clean in closed quarters, the need or urge to pick nose subside.
  9. Clean out your nose every morning/evening. Try a sinus rinse that uses saline to wash out the place in your nose where the mucus originates. Eliminating the booger source, eliminates booger creation. No boogers, no urge to pick.
  10. Don't let your finger go in. A band-aid is very helpful. One generally picks nose with a particular hand and a particular finger. Put a band-aid on that finger for few days. If any one asks, you can say I have cut it badly. The finger will not go unconciously in your nose.


  • Have someone take a photo of you picking your nose. Put it on your computer screensaver. Stick it where you'll see it. Stick all over the place if needs be. It is a reminder of what nose-picking on your face looks like.
  • Borrow an idea on changing habits from Ben Franklin. Carry a small notebook and give yourself a black mark each time you catch yourself picking your nose. Check the total each night, and resolve each morning to reach zero. Use the notebook to engage your awareness and willpower. Religiously keep the total for several weeks, until you can go a week or more with zero points.
  • Keep your nose clean, to reduce the debris and discomfort that triggers unconscious picking. Clean your nose well in the shower, or in the bathroom after being outside in the cold. Trim hair that catches debris. If there's a lot of junk, you might try a sinus rinse. Develop good habits around cleanliness. It's OK to clean your nose, just not in public.
  • Can nose-picking lead to health hazards? Yes. For example, you could pick too hard and cause your nose to bleed. You could introduce foreign particles. You could introduce parasites. Much of it depends on the cleanliness of your hands and the ferocity of your picking. But the end results are no joking matter if your nose-picking leads to health problems.[1]
  • Dip your finger on spicy food. If you try to pick your nose with spice on your fingers you'll create memories of why you should never pick your nose.
  • Try an electric nose-hair trimmer. Excessive nose hair can lead to clogging of the nose and the need to clear it. Also, your significant other and members of the opposite sex will appreciate it. Get a model you can rinse under the sink and optimally has a small vacuum for catching trimmed hairs. Excess hair may be your whole problem. Try it, it works!


  • There is never an excuse for what is depicted in this photo once one is over the age of 5... Not even when nobody is looking.
  • Men be warned: gentleman status is instantly lost the moment you treat nose-picking as some sort of mateship ritual or showing off method. It grosses the ladies right out.
  • Women be warned: nose-picking is never cute after the age of 5. Nose scratches to remove the external itches are exempt; otherwise, use a hanky.
  • See your health professional if straight-talking and self-reasoning don't work. You might be suffering from compulsive nose-picking (rhinotillexomania) and this may need medical and/or psychological treatment and intervention, especially if it relates to a traumatic event in your life.[2]

Things You'll Need

  • Handkerchief or tissue for tackling those "itchy bits" in a polite and once-off manner
  • Anti-nail-biter solution

Related Tips and Steps

Sources and Citations

  1. BBC, The Truth About Nose Picking
  2. See, for example, Martin Winkler, Picking Your Nose All the Time Habits Note that Mr Winkler says that research in this field is currently limited.