From nose picking to peeing in shower – what gross habits say about your health & surprising ones that are good for you

For all of our healthy habits, there will be some that cross the line between good and frankly bad.

But these seemingly harmless, if gross, behaviors could actually have negative repercussions.


“Bad” behavior like swearing might actually have a positive impact on your healthPhoto credit: Shutterstock

According to a Dutch study of 200 healthcare workers, the likelihood of contracting the coronavirus increases by a factor of three.

Researchers found that 17 percent of nose pickers contracted Covid, compared to just 5.9 percent of non-pickers.

It can be difficult to nip a habit in the bud. According to the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes 18 to 254 days to give up.

But before you ditch it, consider that some off-putting habits are actually good for your health.

Lucy Gornall reveals the ‘bad’ behaviors you should start and stop.

and dr Deborah Lee from Dr. Fox Online Pharmacy explains why.


potty mouth: Swearing is believed to reduce stress and can dull feelings of physical pain.

dr Lee says, “Strangely, psychologists think swearing is good for us.

“It’s a way of releasing pent-up emotions. It helps keep us from being stuck with anger.”

So swear!

Chewing gum after meals reduces plaque and strengthens tooth enamel


Chewing gum after meals reduces plaque and strengthens tooth enamelPhoto credit: Getty

CHEWED: “Chewing gums for 20 minutes after meals has been shown to reduce plaque, strengthen tooth enamel, and relieve gingivitis,” says Dr. Lee.

Dry mouth? Chewing gum also stimulates the production and release of more saliva.

Just make sure your gums are sugar free to protect your teeth.

SMOOTH: Unless you exercise regularly and become very sweaty, you probably don’t need to shower more than every two to three days.

“Every time we shower, we strip the skin of the natural oils that make up the protective skin barrier,” says Dr. Lee.

“Skin can feel tight, dry and itchy, and allergens can more easily penetrate the outer layers of the skin, causing further skin irritation and allergic reactions.

“If you wash your hair too often, it dries out and hair loss occurs.

“The scalp can become dry and itchy and the hair can become dull and frizzy.”

Unless you exercise regularly, you probably don't need to shower more than once every two to three days


Unless you exercise regularly, you probably don’t need to shower more than once every two to three daysPhoto credit: Getty

FOAM AP-PEE-L: Peeing in the shower is unlikely to be harmful, although some experts suggest it may weaken pelvic floor muscles and bladder control.

dr Lee says, “Urine is usually sterile, so you can’t pass on an infection unless you have one, and most people with a UTI have very strong symptoms and know all about it.”

“Urine does smell, and if you want to pee in the shower, you need to clean it thoroughly afterwards.”


NAIL BITER: About 20 to 30 percent of the population bites their nails.

dr Lee explains, “This can lead to deformity of the nail bed and infection around the nail bed, chronic shortening of the nail, and transmission of hand-to-mouth infections such as human papillomavirus.”

“It can also lead to infections like pinworms, tapeworms, E. coli and salmonella.”

Your jawbones can even chip and your gums can become inflamed.

Trichophagia is the scientific name for eating hair — and it's potentially life-threatening


Trichophagia is the scientific name for eating hair — and it’s potentially life-threateningPhoto credit: Shutterstock

RINSE: After using the toilet, there are probably 200 million bacteria on your hands, which if left unwashed can lead to illness.

dr Lee says, “Washing hands after going to the bathroom reduces the number of people who develop diarrhea and vomiting by up to 40 percent and respiratory illness by up to 21 percent.”

She recommends washing with warm water and soap for 40 seconds.

HAIR TODAY: Trichophagia is the scientific name for eating hair — and it’s potentially life-threatening.

dr Lee warns, “It can lead to a hairball in the stomach, causing abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and intestinal obstruction.”

More serious problems include anemia, B12 deficiency, liver disease, and pancreatitis. Surgery may be needed to remove the hairball.

BOTTLE IT: When was the last time you washed your water bottle? A recent study found that an average bottle contains over 300,000 germs per square inch.

dr Lee says, “This is more than a sink or a toilet. And 99 percent of the bacteria on a squeeze-top bottle and 98 percent on a screw-top bottle were bacteria like E. coli, a cause of gastroenteritis. Ideally, your water bottle should be washed in the dishwasher every day.

“Otherwise, wash it thoroughly with a bottle brush in hot, soapy water and dry with a paper towel. Do not share your water bottle with others as this is another way of spreading infection.”

About 20 to 30 percent of the population bites their nails


About 20 to 30 percent of the population bites their nailsPhoto credit: Getty

Rich selection: Covid aside, there are plenty of reasons to banish your fingers from your horn. Nose picking, also called rhinotillexomania, is common in both children and adults.

“In one survey, 91 percent of adults admitted to doing it,” reveals Dr. Lee.

“If nose picking is done too frequently, forcefully, or with sharp nails, it can cause nosebleeds and damage to the nasal septum.”

It can cause airway or sinus infections and, in rare cases, blood clots.

COVER UP: It may be impossible to stop a sneeze, but covering your mouth helps control the spread of germs.

dr Lee says, “One sneeze can launch up to 100,000 organisms into the air at speeds of 100 miles per hour. These include respiratory syncytial virus, influenza and adenoviruses, which cause the common cold.”

Picking your nose too often can lead to nosebleeds and damage to the nasal septum


Picking your nose too often can lead to nosebleeds and damage to the nasal septumPhoto credit: Getty

BRUSH: If you forget your toothbrush, it can be tempting to use someone else’s.

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But dr Lee warns, “Your toothbrush becomes contaminated with bacteria every time you use it. A toothbrush can contain more than 100 million bacteria, including E. coli and staph, which cause skin infections.”

There is also a potential risk of someone who has the blood-borne hepatitis C virus passing it on via a shared toothbrush.

Aila Slisco

Aila Slisco is a Dailynationtoday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Aila Slisco joined Dailynationtoday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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