Does Rhinotillexomania Treatment Work?

By: Mason Komay

Updated December 21, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Kay Adkins, LPC

Have you ever heard of rhinotillexomania? If you haven't, you're not alone. In fact, there are a lot of people who have never heard of this disorder, despite the fact that it's quite prevalent. However, this particular disorder doesn't necessarily require a medical diagnosis. This is because rhinotillexomania is the technical terminology for someone who has an irresistible compulsion to pick their nose. People often think of nose pickers as little children, but it's a real disorder among adults as well. As explained by National Library of Medicine, a preliminary survey of rhinotillexomania in an adolescent sample is concluded with the statement that "nose picking is common in adolescents." Rhinotillexomania requires medical treatment. Luckily, there are numerous treatment options available to people who struggle with this repetitive behavior.

What is Rhinotillexomania?

In short, rhinotillexomania can be defined as a compulsive picking of the nose or nasal septum. It's part of a family of different compulsive skin picking disorders, and it can be quite harmful. While many of us think of nose-picking as being gross and something that only children engage in, it can actually cause serious damage if it continues from time to time. This is because your nose and nasal septum is an area of your body responsible for a large portion of blood circulation.

It's essential to note that not everyone who picks their nose suffers from rhinotillexomania. For instance, small children are less likely to suffer from this disorder at all. Even older children and adults who pick their noses may not suffer from any compulsion to do so. As indicated by some surveys, nose-picking is almost a universal practice done on average about 4 times a day. If the activity is intentional and done of your own free will, then it is not considered a compulsion or a disorder. However, it's still not a very good idea and may result in some of the dangers listed below. The fundamental difference between rhinotillexomania and simple nose picking is the compulsion that exists within the disorder and the body-focused, repetitive behaviors that characterize it.

Want To Learn More About Treatments For Rhinotilexomania?
You're Not The Only One. Chat With A Licensed Professional Counselor To Learn More.


The Danger of Rhinotillexomania

The blood that circulates through the nasal cavity is directly linked to the blood that circulates through your brain. This means that if something happens to the blood flow, it's going to impact your brain and the way it functions. Even worse, compulsive nose-picking can result in infections (bacterial infections may cause upper respiratory infections and be the carriage of Staphylococcus aureus) in the nasal cavity and can also enter the blood and flow into the brain. This is because of the connection that it has to other areas. If the infection spreads to the brain, it can be extremely dangerous and even lethal if left untreated for an extended period of time.

Working with those you know who you suspect may have rhinotillexomania is vital for both the health of their nasal cavity and mental health. Try to help them recognize that seeking different treatment options is the best solution and that it can enable them to move on with other things they want to do in their life. The primary concern with this disorder is that it usually causes people who pick their nose to feel self-conscious, guilty, or shameful. By opening up about it and seeking numerous treatment options for your loved ones or yourself, you can stop these feelings and move on to a healthier lifestyle. A disorder like this can interfere with your daily life, but it's very treatable.

Who Has Rhinotillexomania?

So, who exactly is at risk for rhinotillexomania? The truth is that a lot of people could have it. When it comes to compulsive nose picking, rhinotillexomania begins during childhood and continues into adolescence and even into adulthood. However, for most people, the actual disorder seems to occur sometime during adolescence or early adulthood. National Library of Medicine (Rhinotillexomania: psychiatric disorder or habit?) conducted a population survey which proved that nose picking is an almost universal act which adults engage— this practice may not be pathologic in most occasion. Rhinotillexomania doesn't have anything to do with hygiene or necessity. Instead, it's a compulsive way to ease tension or stress.

Someone who feels a large amount of stress or who struggles with an anxiety disorder may be susceptible to the disorder. Those with other types of compulsion disorders, such as different forms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, may be more susceptible to rhinotillexomania. Also, they are more likely to suffer from a combination of various disorders with similar causes. Of course, as with many others, rhinotillexomania has a few possible causes, which makes it difficult to understand where it comes from.

Consulting with a doctor is important, as they can provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment for you if you pick your nose.


Symptoms of Rhinotillexomania

So, if it's not just about picking your nose, then what kind of symptoms should you keep an eye out for? For starters, an individual with rhinotillexomania is going to constantly pick their nose because they feel an irresistible compulsion to do so. They will likely continue to do so even to the point of bleeding or severe irritation because they can't seem to stop themselves from doing it. There are several things that may cause nosebleeds (recurrent epistaxis). Some of these may include colds (upper respiratory infections) and sinusitis, blowing your nose with force, inserting an object into your nose, injury to the nose and/or face, and nose picking. Several people who engage in nose picking may experience excessive nosebleeds (recurrent epistaxis), which may lead to infections or other problems with their nose, and even make them suffer from severe headaches.

These individuals also experience excessive tension and anxiety that can lead up to rhinotillexomania. They may then feel relief or gratification after they engage in the activity but may follow this up with shame or guilt. They will usually attempt to hide the behavior, but it may still be somewhat apparent to those around them.

Someone who engages in this type of behavior may engage in other similar behaviors as well. Many who report picking their nose excessively with the possibility of rhinotillexomania have also reported picking behaviors such as picking at their skin, biting their fingernails, pulling out their hair, and picking at their cuticles. These behaviors are all considered different types of skin picking disorders and may occur at different frequencies. Someone may pick at different parts of the body or different areas more or less frequently than they do others. They may also pick at different areas at different times and may engage in other behaviors related to skin picking.

Treating Rhinotillexomania

So what kind of treatment options are available for someone suffering from rhinotillexomania? The best thing that you can do is seek out professional help. There is likely an underlying cause or problem with the disorder, as it's considered an obsessive-compulsive or impulse control disorder.

Want To Learn More About Treatments For Rhinotilexomania?
You're Not The Only One. Chat With A Licensed Professional Counselor To Learn More.


Luckily, there are numerous treatment options available for people struggling with this mental health disorder. By working with a professional, it's possible to work on these problems, which will enable you to work toward a more positive future for yourself. Finding the right professional to work with can be challenging because you might be limited by the people that are available in your area. However, there's no need to worry, because you can explore several online options for a psychiatrist appointment. This way, you can find someone that can help you conquer anything you might be suffering from, all without having to worry about their location.

Alternative Solutions

It might feel embarrassing to talk about rhinotillexomania, even with a professional counselor. If you're not ready to seek out counseling just yet, consider trying out some of these alternative solutions and habit reversal training techniques listed below.

Avoid Using Your Fingernails

You don't necessarily need to stop picking your nose altogether. You may simply need to avoid using your fingernails when doing so. Consider using a cotton swab instead of using fingers to pick your nose. This will significantly lower your risk of dealing with a perforation of the nasal cavity or infection (bacterial infections may cause upper respiratory infections and be the carriage of staphylococcus aureus)

Blow Your Nose

Instead of picking your nose, try blowing it into a tissue instead. It may not provide the same relief and satisfaction, but it can help you reduce the urge to pick. You can even use the tissue as a layer of protection between your fingernails and the tender flesh inside of your nostrils.

Use A Fidget Toy

Luckily, there are many different options that can provide relief from stress and anxiety. Fidget toys are highly recommended because they can help keep you distracted from picking your nose and keep your hands busy. Without fingers to pick available and an extra distraction, it can be harder to pick your nose.

Seeking Help

BetterHelp is an excellent way to get the online help that you're looking for. You don't need to worry about driving to a physical location for appointments or interfering with your schedule whatsoever. Instead, you can simply relax on the couch, your table, or anywhere else with an internet connection. It's great for anyone who needs professional assistance from doctors who understand why people pick their noses, but who also prefers more flexibility and freedom in their treatment. Below are some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people who pick their nose and experience similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

"Lindsey is very good at putting things in perspective. She is a great listener and offers realistic, loving advice without being judgmental or harsh. I feel like she has helped me to see things in a way that makes me able and willing to change my negative behaviors without feeling like my life is going to end and I'll never get over the loss of my old ways. It's the way she phrases things and makes me see it in a new way that makes me able to have a light flip on that was out before."

"Busola is amazing, I've only had a few sessions with her but she makes me feel listened to. She understands what my primary needs are for each session and addresses them. Moreover, it doesn't feel like just time to talk and unload everything on someone, but she addresses negative behavioral patterns and helps create an action plan for them."

Frequently Asked Question on Nose Picking in Adults

What does rhinotillexomania mean? Rhinotillexomania is the formal term for a mental health disorder characterized by compulsive nose picking. This disease is typically accompanied by nail biting or skin scratching.

Is there a medically reviewed research study published on rhinotillexomania? Yes. One recent study published on the repetitive behavior caused by rhinotillexomania found that it can cause inflammation of the nasal tissue.

Why do people pick their nasal passages? People pick their nose for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, an allergy and sinus infection can make them pick their nose with a tissue. Other times, they do it out of stress or anxiety. In rare situations, nose picking is a compulsive and repetitive behavior in people.

Does picking your nose help clear nasal mucus? Nasal mucus is typically caused by allergies or sinus infections. People sometimes try to pick their nose with a tissue to clear it away. However, saline sprays are a safer and more effective treatment for clearing your nasal cavity.

Can nose picking cause you to develop a dry nose? Dealing with a dry nose is never pleasant. A dry nose is not always caused by nose picking, but body-focused repetitive behaviors like nose picking can contribute to dry nose.

Do people pick their nasal passages because they are suffering from a mental illness? Sometimes, people who pick their nose suffer from rhinotillexomania. This is a compulsive health disorder that typically requires counseling and sometimes medication to treat.

How do I stop compulsive nose picking? Several methods, such as treating your nasal cavity with a saline spray or reducing nose discharge of mucus can help you reduce nose picking. However, if you are suffering from a compulsive habit of picking your nose, you may need to seek help from a counselor.

Does picking your nasal passages compromise your immune system? Picking and eating substances from your nose can be dangerous. This is because it increases your risk of developing a respiratory infection, which is bad news for you if you have a compromised immune system.

What side effects occur to your nasal cavity when you pick your nose? There's no case report that shows that someone can die from nose picking. However, chronic rhinotillexomania leading to unilateral external nare stenosis may cause serious health problems. In other words, a number of health problems such as excessive nose bleeding (recurrent epistaxis), infection, and septum perforation or damage can occur when you pick your nose.

How do you Treat Rhinotillexomania?  Sometimes, nose picking may become obsessive-compulsive disorder or body-focused repetitive behavior. This, technically, is referred to as rhinotillexomania. Chronic rhinotillexomania leading to unilateral external nare stenosis may cause serious health problems. Just like every other repetitive behavior and compulsive illness, this body-focused repetitive behavior is not without an effective treatment with the help of a support center.

There are different treatment options available for rhinotillexomaniacs. These options center on immediate symptomatic correction and also dealing with the underlying psychiatric disorders. Your condition may require intensive treatment options. The available options for body-focused repetitive behavior disorders include behavioral modification therapy and antidepressants.

Support centers may also involve the use of different treatment options such as habit reversal training (HRT), social support (involving family members in your treatment process), evidence-based treatment, and peer support groups.

What Causes Excessive Nose Picking? Excessive nose picking which can be described as a compulsive, repetitive behavior occurs in rare situations. Nose picking varies from person to person with respect to why each person engages in it. National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI survey) shows that several individuals are found engaging in this nasty habit (example: U.S.A, in 1995, 91 per cent of the world’s population). Also, adolescents are found four times a day picking their noses. Some current nose pickers suffering from rhinotillexomania may spend hours a day picking their nose which in most occasions may lead to nasal discharge. Some people pick their noses because the practice can relieve them of some discomfort. Some engage in it because they are bored or nervous.

Excessive nose picking may be caused by anxiety or stress or goes with scratching or nail-biting. It's discovered that nose picking has the tendency to ease anxiety briefly.


From time to time, you may continue to struggle with bad nose picking habits. But recognizing and understanding rhinotillexomania, you're going to have a much easier time getting on with living your life the way that you want. You'll be feeling significantly better about yourself in no time, and you'll be able to curb the compulsions that have been hounding you for so long. There's no shame in getting help - take the first step today.

Previous Article

What Is Hair Pulling Disorder And How Can It Affect Your Life?

Next Article

What Is Kleptomania And What Can You Do To Treat It?
For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns
Speak with a Licensed Counselor Today
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.