Chronic nose picking is called rhinotillexomania. It is simultaneously disgusting and fascinating to discover the driver next to you, frantically booger mining while waiting in traffic. Rarely do these suffers of rhinotillexomania utilize socially sanctioned booger disposal devices, such as tissue paper. Most likely, the snot ends up hidden under the car seat.
What are boogers? Sugars and protein mostly, and it is the proteins that give them their surprising elasticity. Doctors at the Nemours Foundation offer the following "booger basics."
"To really understand what boogers are, you need to make friends with mucus (say: myoo-kuss). Mucus is the thin, sticky, slimy material that's made inside your nose. Your nose makes about a cupful of snot every day." Nemours Foundation experts say the job of mucus is to serve and protect the lungs from dust, germs, and pollen: "Luckily, snot's on the scene, and it works by trapping the particles and keeping them in the nose." Additionally, mucus appears throughout the body. It protects stomach acids from digesting our own insides and even allows fecal matter to exit without eroding our anuses. Toe jam and eyeball goop are also made of mucus.
So why can't some people stop picking their noses? Are they stimulating their higher brain functions? Is it a result of the "If it feels good, probe it" mentality, or is it just plain fun? Actually, chronic suffers of rhinotillexomania are experiencing behavioral and mental disorders, which, if left untreated, can lead to irritation, nose-bleeds, infection, and revulsion in secondary commuters.
I spoke briefly with Dan Berry of 3 Fighters Auto Detailing in Damascus, owned and operated by boxing enthusiasts. "Trust me," Dan told me, "we've seen it all." Researchers say rhinotillexomania appears in about 2 percent of the population, a figure Dan agrees with, as related to boogers under car seats. Dan says he encounters (and cleans) interiors of automobiles obviously owned by rhinotillexomania sufferers a couple times a year, and that he and his partners laugh at first, but the laughter doesn't last very long.
Gross stuff, but health experts say boogers placed under the car seat are still preferred over ingestion, as they are chock full of bacteria and viral agents just waiting to cause illness. The next time you're stuck in traffic and see a rhinotillexomania sufferer, try to remember, they may be unhealthy mentally, but are doing their share to thwart the spread of physical illnesses.