Ask Dr. Mel – The Truth About Boogers

May 18th, 2007 by Dr. Mel

Welcome to the newest weekly feature of where our very own Fanrastic Dr. Mel will answer a question from you, the readers.

This week’s question:

Dear Dr. Mel,

Lately I’ve been noticing that when I blow my nose and look at the kleenex afterward my boogers aren’t the same yellowish colour that they usually are. They’re starting to look more green like you see on cartoons. Sometimes there’s even brown crap too. What’s up with that?

Snot Yellowanymore

Dear Snotty,

First off, what the hell are you doing inspecting dirty tissues? Are you some kind of weirdo?!

That’s gross. You might as well not use a kleenex and just pick your nose in public. You probably already do.

But to answer your question, the change in colour probably indicates an infection. You see, normally the inside of your nose is covered by a thin clear substance called MUCUS (unless your finger is up there, then it’s covered by your fat, smelly digit instead) which acts to filter the air you breath and catch any dirt particles that try to enter your body through your nose.

The mucus is basically an all you can eat buffet for bacteria and they love the moist, warm environment of your nose about as much as you nose pickers do! Normally there is enough mucus flow to allow your body to digest and be rid of the bacteria (yes, that’s right, you swallow the mucus – unless you’re the Queen. She would never do such a thing. She doesn’t even defecate!) but in some circumstances the bacteria can overwhelm your system and it takes time (and sometimes antibiotics) to help you regain control over your body.

So here’s where the colour change happens. You have a normal zoo of bacteria in your mucus, and some bacteria that live in your nose appear yellow, and others blue. In your case you probably have Staphylococcus aureus microbes and so your regular booger colour is yellow. But when the blue Pseudomonas pyocyanea come out to party in your nose you will see a shift from yellow to green (simple colour math: yellow + blue = green!).

As for the brown, you probably picked your nose so hard that it bled, and the “brown crap” you refer to is likely dried up blood caught in the mucus. That’s a really good way to allow the bacteria a direct line of access to your body. Good job. And by good, I mean horribly, horribly bad. Stop picking your nose! And if you insist that you’re not a nose picker, then stop blowing your nose so hard, or else I’ll have to answer questions next week about the possibility of accidently blowing out bits of your brain through your nose.

Dr. Mel

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3 Responses

  1. Mr. Fanrastic

    That’s as informative as it is gross. Good job!

    Hey, is there any way to get blue boogers? I bet you could sell those on eBay.

  2. Anonymous Snot Eater!

    I like eating boogers because of the sugar content!

  3. Dr. Mel

    Anonymous Snot Eater:

    You might want to consider trying used chewing gum as well. Or kitty litter biscuits.

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