How to Stop Picking Your Nose

Do you have a habitual need to pick your nose, even to the point where you have started doing it in public? It is time to stop this unhygienic and unpleasant-to-witness habit right now. Read these tips to kick that nose-picking habit.


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    Accept that you have a problem. If you pick 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 may start at home but soon creeps into the public sphere, where you justify it as "just a little pick" or tell yourself that people won't notice. People do notice and they don't appreciate it, especially if close friends see you doing it constantly.
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    Figure out what triggers your need to pick your nose. If it’s merely a habit, it’s likely that you just became comfortable doing it over time and now functions as a form of reassurance or something to do with your hands. On the other hand, there are legitimate reasons that might have led you to start picking your nose. 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 to keep from going nuts. 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.
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    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.
    • 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 will appreciate it. Get a model you can rinse under the sink and optimally has a small vacuum for catching trimmed hairs.
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    Change your behavior. 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, when you feel stressed or bored, or when you’re lost in your own thoughts while driving or in front of the computer? Note the times and occasions to be prepared.
    • Leave yourself post-it notes around the place to remind you how clean your nose is. If you don’t want people to know that this is what you’re doing, write or draw a code word or sign. (Then again, trying to stop is hardly more embarrassing than doing it in the first place.)
    • 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 a video game, play a board game, or do a puzzle. Write stories, do the bills, or text a friend. 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 during weak moments when you’re alone and aren't thinking clearly.
    • Use a tissue or handkerchief. Remove the offending nasal object neatly and swiftly and be done with it. Blow your nose for good measure.
    • Put a band-aid on your finger. Since you probably pick your nose with a particular hand and finger, putting a band-aid on that finger for a few days will keep it from going unconsciously into your nose. As a more seemly alternative, tie a string around that finger. If anyone asks, you can tell them it’s to remember a project or chore.
    • Slice and handle hot peppers. If you try to pick your nose with spice on your fingers, you'll create memories of why you should never pick your nose.
    • If you eat your boogers, apply a nail-biting remedy to your fingers. The stuff tastes awful.
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    Change your thought process. Every morning, noon, and night, affirm that you will stop. Say something aloud to yourself like "My nose is clean. I am very busy with my hobby/TV program/teeth cleaning etc., and my nose is fine as it is." This is a positive affirmation. Avoid negative affirmations ("Don't pick your nose") because the subconscious doesn’t recognize negation and will focus on the forbidden activity; instead, provide it with an alternative focus like whatever else you’re working on.
    • Think about what you are doing to your nose when you pick it. Untold number of germs are being inserted every time you pick it, not to mention other particles or chemicals (particularly if you work in such industries as spray-painting, manicuring, hairdressing, printing, gas-pumping, etc). If you handle money, really think twice before moving 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 self-indulgence, childishness, and lack of respect for oneself. If you want to date or get a job, think twice about picking.
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    Ask others to help you. Choose people whom you trust and are intimate friends and ask them 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 picking' ya nose, will ya?"
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    If you must do it publicly, keep it inconspicuous. If you really, really can't resist, at least do it where nobody else can see you, or pick it inconspicuously. One way out to do this is to make it a point of removing mucus from the nostrils every time you go to washroom. The more you clean in closed quarters, the less you’ll need to do it publicly.


  • Try to keep a small packet of tissues with you so if you have the feeling you need to pick your nose use a tissue!
  • 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 stay at 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.
  • Try keeping a reward chart, set a goal for a time you don't want to pick your nose.Once you complete your goal give yourself a treat to reward yourself.
  • Tie a rubber band around your wrist. Every time you get the urge to pick your nose, "snap" yourself with the rubber band.
  • If you tend to eat food with your fingers such as burgers, chicken or sandwiches a lot, then don't put on the nail biting remedy as you can taste it in the food.
  • Try making yourself aware of when your picking your nose and slap your hand hard so it burns and that will remind you to stop picking your nose. (Don't hurt yourself though).
  • Have someone take a photo of you picking your nose. Put it on your computer screensaver. Stick it where you'll see it. Stick it all over the place if needs be. It is a reminder of what nose-picking on your face looks like.
  • If you can't do this all in one day, start by cutting down on your nose picking. Try to keep your fingers out of your nose for most of the day by following the guide. Keep cutting down day by day until you don't pick your nose at all.
  • Wear gloves to keep you from picking your nose.
  • Every-time you have an urge to pick your nose, bite down on the inside of your cheek, or flick yourself on your face, or snap a rubber band on your wrist, etc.
  • Use a tissue if you can't resist.


  • 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. You could also infect a nose hair folliculus and develop an ugly looking, painful nose pimple. 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]
  • 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]
  • Picking your nose may lead to major inflammation to the nose and also pimples spreading in the nostril.[citation needed]

Things You'll Need

  • Handkerchief, (or better) a tissue for tackling those "itchy bits" in a polite and once-off manner
  • Alternative activities
  • A band-aid, string, or hot peppers
  • Anti-nail-biter solution
  • Hand sanitizer

Sources and Citations

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

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