Study: Nose picking can give your child pneumonia
Nose picking is so much more than a pesky habit...
Kids can have annoying habit. Perhaps one of the worst is picking their nose. But other than being gross, there's now a very real reason to discourage nose-picking in your child. A new study by British scientists has found out infection from nose picking is a very real possibility, and could lead to pneumonia.
A study that mimicked real-life condition
The bacteria called pneumococcus can make people ill with pneumonia. This respiratory disease affecting the lungs can have fatal consequences without proper treatment. We know that the pneumococcus bacteria normally disperses itself by air, usually from droplets released by a coughing or sneezing patient.
On October 11, researchers from Britain managed to determine that pneumococci could spread physically from the hands to the nose. They published their results in the European Respiratory Journal.
Grown ups who volunteered for one of the trials had the bacteria put on their hands.
Then, the adults were told to choose from four actions: "wet sniff", "dry sniff", "wet poke", and "dry poke". These actions were formulated to copy regular ways people touch or dig within their noses.
Ms Victoria Connor, a clinical research fellow from the Royal Liverpool Hospital, remarked that the study illustrated the possibility "that the hands can spread this bacteria as well". She also emphasises that "objects like mobile phones or children's toys" might help this bacteria to disperse further.
Hygiene is key to curb infection from nose picking
Worldwide, pneumonia claims the lives of about 1.3 million infants below five years of age. Thus, although the study recruited adults, Ms Connor emphasises that the take-away message was more directed towards parents of young kids.
According to a doctor, cold weather might help the virus to stay alive longer. She also adds that while it isn't practical to completely stop kids from digging, touching or poking their noses, hygiene is key.
"Ensuring good hand hygiene and cleaning of toys or surfaces would likely reduce transmission, and reduce the risk of developing pneumococcal infection such as pneumonia," said the doctor.
Why is hygiene important? According to researchers, it didn't matter whether they subjects were given dried or wet bacteria on their hands. Both groups had the same chance of contracting the bacteria inside the nose.
However, there was more bacteria transferred when adults chose the "wet sniff" and "wet poke" actions. This result could mean that drying out might help in eliminate the bacteria before they cause the disease.
Tips to stop nose picking
If your child has picked up this habit quite excessively, don't panic or scold them. Instead, find the source of hardening mucus - it could be an allergy or the dry air. If that is the case, do consult a medical professional for further advice.
There are also ways to help your child curb this habit. Parents can:
- remind their children that it's socially inappropriate. Tell your children that people aren't fond of seeing them picking their noses in public. These acts should be done in private areas - like at home, or in the restroom.
- explain to the child why it is a socially unacceptable behaviour and allow him the liberty to deal with this habit in a “grown up” manner. Remember to always focus your attention on the child and not the habit. The habit is bad, not the child.
- observe when your child usually picks his nose. Then distract him when he does it next. Also, it helps to remind them to blow their nose with tissue paper instead of picking it.
Remember parents, children don't get things right the first time. It's very likely that you'll have to remind them over and over before they stop.