what are boogers

Why is my nose full of boogers lately — and what are boogers, anyway? And why does my child think they taste so good?

The first two questions have pretty straightforward answers. The third, well, that may always remain a mystery.

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What Are Boogers?

Basically, boogers are dried-up mucus, also called snot.

Your body makes mucus all the time, and you need it. It provides a protective layer in your nose. The stickiness of mucus traps dirt, bacteria, dust, and other particles so they can’t enter your airways or get to your lungs.

Most of the mucus made in the nose goes down the back of your throat and is swallowed. That may sound gross, but it’s not that bad. Mucus is mostly water, salt, proteins, and antibodies.

Learn about what boogers are and how you can get rid of them


Why Do I Get Boogers?

Although your body is constantly producing mucus, it sometimes thickens. This can happen from colds, allergies, the flu, or other irritants. When that thick mucus dries out, you get more boogers.

You may have more boogers in dry weather, cold rooms, and dusty environments. Sinus infections and runny noses can also lead to more dried mucus building up in your nose.

What Can I Learn from My Boogers?

Occasionally looking at the mucus coming out of your nose can help you figure out what’s going on in your body and when you may need to call a doctor.

Your mucus changes color as your body fights infection. When you become congested and the mucus thickens, it’s usually white. As your body begins to fight off germs, it may become yellow and then green. The color changes as your body sends more white blood cells to combat the illness.

Red or brownish boogers often happen when your nose is dry and bleeds a little from blowing or picking.

Green mucus or boogers do not mean that you need an antibiotic. In fact, you probably don’t. It’s just a sign that your immune system is doing its job. However, if the mucus persists for more than a week, you may want to talk to your doctor.

What Can I Do About Boogers?

The best thing you can do for your nose is to keep it clean and thin out the mucus. Nasal irrigation, steam, and saline sprays are great for this.

These methods help remove some of the irritants causing more boogers. The moisture also helps loosen the crustiness, so you don’t damage the lining of your nose when picking or blowing it.

Boogers may be annoying and sometimes embarrassing, but they are a normal part of a healthy nose. As for your child making a snack of them, don’t worry too much about that either. One scientist thinks it’s possible that boogers boost your immune system.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .

About Ear Nose and Throat

The experts in the UPMC Department of Otolaryngology treat a variety of ear, nose, and throat (ENT) conditions in both children and adults. Our team includes board-certified physicians and highly skilled speech-language pathologists and audiologists. We provide both surgical and nonsurgical treatment options. Our research and clinical trials help to advance care for our patients. Find an ENT expert near you.