Different snot colors and what they meanPosted: April 04, 2022
Snot! Eww. We all have it, but it’s not something we always want to think or talk about. But parents of young children quickly learn that they are frequently tasked with wiping snot away from their child’s nose—probably more often than they ever imagined! Yes, snot is common. We are actually always producing snot, or mucus, in our nasal passageways. In fact, that is a good thing! Snot keeps our nose moist and helps trap germs, dust, and other things we inhale before they can cause any problems. It is filled with antibacterial and antiviral proteins, too.
As you can see, snot is pretty important. And we make a lot of it—more than one liter per day. So, why do we only seem to notice this when we are sick or during certain times of the year?
That’s because when the tiny hairs lining our passages get inflamed, they move more slowly and clear mucus more slowly, so it tends to build up. That will cause congestion and our noses to run. When you consider that children can get six to eight colds per year on average, you can quickly understand why parents end up spending a lot of time dealing with snot.
Snot can be many different colors and there are many myths about what the color of your snot means. Let’s talk about the facts.
- Clear snot – Clear snot is normal. If your child has clear, watery snot that is causing their nose to run frequently, this may be a sign of seasonal allergies, especially if it is stringy. However, even a cold can cause increased production of clear, liquid snot.
- White snot – White snot may mean that your child is coming down with a cold or upper respiratory infection.
- Yellow and green snot – Yellow and green snot typically means that the body is mounting defenses against these types of infections and may occur after a couple of days.
- Red snot - this usually means that there is blood in the snot, and this can often be a sign of dryness or other type of irritation that may be caused by dry air, allergies, or other
- Brown snot – brown snot may appear when the blood is old or dried or can be due to exposure to tobacco or pollution.
- Black snot - This can be a sign of a fungal infection (contact your child’s doctor right away). There is really no way to tell from your snot alone if a nasal infection is caused by a virus or bacteria. Fortunately, in children, most upper respiratory infections are caused by a virus and do not need antibiotics.
The important things to pay attention to when dealing with a runny nose are any other symptoms your child is experiencing, such as fever, length of time, the presence of sinus pain, and other symptoms. Unfortunately, there are not antiviral treatments for the common cold and taking antibiotics when they aren’t needed can cause side effects and produce antibiotic resistant bacteria.
When your child has a runny nose, keep them comfortable, let them rest and make sure they drink plenty of liquids. Saline nose drops and a humidifier may help you child breathe easier.
For children older than one year of age, honey has been shown to help with coughing. Over the counter cough and cold medicines are generally discouraged in children. They should never be given to children younger than 4 years of age, and it has been shown that they don’t work in children younger than 6. They also may cause unwanted side effects. If your child is 2 months of age or younger, you should call their pediatrician for further instructions. For older children, contact their doctor if they are having any trouble breathing, their mucus is persistent for more than 10‐14 days, the cough is lasting more than two weeks, they are complaining of ear pain, or having fevers greater than 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Many children can still be cared for at home, but their pediatrician may want to see them or can provide further guidance.
We’ve talked about snot, but what about boogers? Well, everyone gets boogers, whether we like it or not. Encourage and teach your child how to blow their nose once they are able to. For children who are too young to blow their own nose, a bulb suction or nose Freida can do wonders. In the end, we are all swallowing our mucus and snot all the time. Snot moves from our nose to the back of our throat, where we then swallow it.
For a little fun at home try a recipe for making your own snot!
Gruesome Snot Recipe
- 1 tbsp Gelatine powder
- 1 tbsp Hot water
- 2 tbsp Sugar syrup (corn syrup or golden syrup)
- Food colouring
- A plastic container/bag
- Paint brush or dropper
Making your own snot:
- In your container mix the gelatine and hot water together, stir quickly until the gelatin dissolves.
- Using a paint brush or dropper add a very small amount of food colouring.
- Add the sugar syrup and mix until it goes stringy and snot like.