June 14, 2024

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Nose-Picking Increases the Risk of Covid

Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, health care workers have been at a higher risk of contracting Covid.

But now, a new study has found that healthcare workers who pick their nose are far more likely to contract SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the respiratory disease, Covid.

According to a study of 219 health care workers in the Netherlands, 17% of those who picked their nose caught Covid, whereas less than 6% of those who refrained from nose-picking contracted the disease.

While nose-picking showed a marked increase in Covid infections, “no association was observed between nail biting, wearing glasses, or having a beard,” according to the study, which was funded by the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development.

Washing hands for 20 seconds or more can help stop the spread of Covid.

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“Nose picking…is associated with an increased risk of contracting a SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the study definitively concluded. “We therefore recommend health care facilities to create more awareness, e.g. by educational sessions or implementing recommendations against nose picking in infection prevention guidelines. 

Covid spreads when an infected person breathes out droplets containing the virus, according to the CDC. “These droplets and particles can be breathed in by other people or land on their eyes, noses, or mouth. In some circumstances, they may contaminate surfaces they touch.”

A person who touches an infected surface — and then picks their nose —  may become ill with Covid.

“COVID-19 may get on your hands,” the CDC points out. “You may get sick if you touch your face.”

And this includes your nasal cavity, which is why the agency adds, “Wash your hands before you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.”

In fact, a recent study by Stanford University pinpointed the nose as the primary way people are infected with Covid.

“Our upper airways are the launchpad not only for infection of our lungs but for transmission to others,” Peter Jackson, PhD, a Stanford Medicine professor of pathology and of microbiology and immunology, said.

“It’s clear that human ciliated nasal epithelial cells are the primary entry site for SARS-CoV-2 in nasal epithelial tissue,” Jackson said.

To avoid Covid, the CDC recommends regular hand-washing — for 20 or more seconds, as well as staying up to date on your vaccines and boosters.

And, of course, instead of picking your nose, maybe grab a tissue instead.