|Mucophagy (eating nasal mucus)|
|Classification and external resources|
A man picking his nose
Eating mucus is the act of extracting nasal mucus with one's finger (rhinotillexis) and the succeeding action of ingesting the mucus from the nose-picking (mucophagy). Nasal mucus is also termed as boogers, snot, bogeys, dried nasal mucus, mucus secretion, and other related terms including comerse los mocos (to eat one's snot).
Mucophagy is a common behavior in children. Some scientists argue that mucophagy provides benefits for the human body. Friedrich Bischinger, an Austrian doctor specializing in lungs advocates using fingers to pick and ingesting nasal mucus, states people who do so get "a natural boost to their immune system." The mucus contains a "cocktail of antiseptic enzymes that kill or weaken many of the bacteria that become entangled in it," so reintroducing the 'crippled' microorganisms "may afford the immune system an opportunity to produce antibodies in relative safety." However, this action is condemned in most cultures and societies which try to prevent development of the habit and attempt to break it if already established. Mucophagy is a source of mockery and entertainment in the media thus confirming the social scorn previously mentioned.
Mucophagy comes with many health risks due to the potential physical destruction resulting from the action of nose picking, and the germs on fingers and in mucus. Picking one's nose can cause upper airway destruction as well as other injuries including nasal septal perforation (a "through-and-through defect" of the cartilage separating the nostrils), and epistaxis (nosebleed). In Andrade and Srihari's aforementioned study, 25% of subjects were ailed by nose bleeds, 17% with nasal infections, and 2% with damage more serious than bleeding. W. Buzina studied the fungal diversity in nasal mucus in 2003. 104 samples were gathered with 331 identifiable strains of fungi and 9 different species per patient.
Benefits may include a boost to the immune system by allowing the body to produce antibodies "in relative safety," as well as the hygiene hypothesis that a lack of early childhood exposure to infectious agents, symbiotic microorganisms (e.g., gut flora or probiotics), and parasites increases susceptibility to allergic diseases by suppressing natural development of the immune system.
The Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder Association of South Africa collectively concluded that nose picking (and mucophagy) are passing behaviors. Andrade and Srihari studied persons who were more apt to suffer from "habitual and obsessive–compulsive behaviors." They discovered that those with psychotic issues showed correlation between nose picking and self-mutilation motives. Diagnoses have also included passive–aggressive character disorder and schizophrenia.
Mucophagy has also been referred to as a "tension phenomenon" based on children's ability to function in their environment. The different degrees of effectively fitting in socially may indicate psychiatric disorders or developmental stress reactions. However, most mothers view these habits as pathological issues. Moreover, Andrade and Srihari cited a study performed by Sidney Tarachow of the State University of New York which reported that people who ate their boogers found them "tasty."
- Bellows, Alan (2009). "A Booger A Day Keeps The Doctor Away: A Medical Doctor Describes the Health Benefits of Nose-Mining". Alien Hand Syndrome: And Other Too-Weird-Not-To-Be-True Stories. Workman Publishing. pp. 28–30. ISBN 978-0761152255.
- Portalatin, Maria Jesus. (2007). Eating Snot – Socially Unacceptable but Common: Why? Consuming the inedible: neglected dimensions of food choice. pp. 177–187. ISBN 9781845456849.
- Lane, Carin (March 23, 2012). "Like to become a stranger to illness? Read on". Times Union. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
- Romo, Thomas III. "Septal Perforation: Surgical Aspects." eMedicine. Web MD, 24 Jul. 2007. Web. 25 Sept. 2009.
- Andrade, Chittaranjan, and Srihari, B.S. (2001). "A Preliminary Survey of Rhinotillexomania in an Adolescent Sample." J Clin Psychiatry 62: 426–431.
- Buzina, W. "Fungal Biodiversity-as found in nasal mucus." Medical Mycology 41.2 (2003): 149–161. Google Scholar. Web. 18 Sept. 2009.
- Caruso, Ronald. "Self-induced Ethmoidectomy from Rhinotillexomania." American Society of Neuroradiology 18 (Nov 1997): 1949–1950. Google Scholar. Web. 18 Sept. 2009.
- Lapouse, Rema. "An Epidemiologic Study of Behavior Characteristics in Children." American School Health Association 48.9 (12 Nov. 1957): 1134–44. Google Scholar. Web. 18 Sept. 2009.