It’s not something many people will admit to doing — and now, new research suggests picking your nose is linked to a higher risk of COVID-19.
A study published Aug. 2 in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS One found that nose-picking among healthcare workers is associated with an increased likelihood of contracting a SARS-CoV-2 infection, which causes COVID.
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,” the study’s authors said.
To conduct the study, researchers analyzed rates of COVID-19 infection among staff at Amsterdam UMC from March 2020 through October 2020, then in 2021, surveyed participants to see whether they picked their noses. Other behaviors, such as nail biting, or physical attributes like having a beard, were also asked about.
Of the 219 healthcare workers who completed the survey, 185 disclosed that they were habitual nose pickers, with frequency varying from monthly, to weekly to daily.
Nose pickers were younger than those who didn’t pick their nose: the median age was 44 for those who did.
More men, 90% of them, reported picking their noses often than women (83%). Of the professionals asked, doctors were the most frequent nose pickers, with 100% of residents and 91% of specialists saying they do.
The study showed those who picked their nose had a 17.3% chance of getting the SARS-CoV-2 infection compared to those who refrained, who had a 5.9% chance.