Nose-picking, or rhinotillexis as the scientists like to call it, is one of the worst condemned acts in almost all of the cultures and societies. It involves extracting one’s nasal mucus with finger, and even the ingestion of the mucus picked from the nose. Eating one’s own nasal mucus is called mucophagy, which is often a subject of ridicule in comedy programs all around.
Nevertheless, nose-picking is an extremely widespread habit. It is difficult to find a person who hasn’t poked around inside his nose with his finger or any other object in his life, although few will admit of doing so. Studies have showed that people pick their nose an average four times per day. Also, boys tend to be doing it more than girls.
The mucus is produced by the mucous membranes located in the nasal cavity to remove dust and pathogens from the air flowing through the opening. The mucus is mainly wet, and the cilia, which are spread over the cavity, work to move the mucus toward the throat. However, the mucus that is close to the nostril opening loses its moisture from its exposure to the outside air, and it becomes dry and gets stuck to in the nostrils. This dried mucus causes a sensation of irritation which prompts people to remove the itch by picking.
The question is that whether it is a healthy habit or not. A group of scientists found out in 2006 that nose-picking helps to spread the bacterial infection. Also it can lead to serious behavioral problems if one became too obsessed with it. There are actually people who dug holes in their sinus.
Despite the older studies and the societies’ attempts to discourage it, many modern studies and scientists have emerged in support of nose-picking. According to them, nose-picking and eating the mucus boosts a person’s immune system. Mucophagy has a number of health benefits, howsoever incredible that may sound.
The eating of mucus introduces a small and harmless number of germs into the body. The immune system finds a method to fight those germs and stores that method in its memory, in case it is needed in future. It is the case with all the bugs that enter our body and the principle behind the vaccines. When a bug enters the body for a second time, the immune system racks its memory and reactivates the defensive mechanisms it used the first time it encountered the bug. The scientists have found that it can be applied to nail-biting as well.
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