You feel it every time you exhale—an overlong nose hair tickling your nostril ridges and threatening to disgust every woman who comes within 10 feet of your face. Heading to the restroom and pulling it out seems like a no-brainer. But yanking it may have consequences.
The hair in your nose acts as a filtration system that prevents air pollutants and other particulate matter from being sucked up into your head, shows a study from the International Archives of Allergy and Immunology. The denser your nose hair, the better that system works. In fact, lots of nose hair lowers your risk for asthma if you have seasonal allergies, the same study shows.
While it’s not a big deal to trim back your nose hairs so they’re not cascading down to your upper lip, yanking them out reduces their density. It also creates tears in the skin of your inner nostril—the skin surrounded by all the pollutants your existing nose hair managed to catch. Those tears increase your chances of sickness or infection, research shows.
So yeah, you’re better off trimming—never plucking. Here are more grooming errors that could come back to bite you.
YOU PICK YOUR NOSE
Your fingers—and particularly your fingernails—are hotspots for germs and bacteria. If you pick your nose often, not only are you shoving nail-borne bacteria up into your schnoz, but the little cuts and scrapes that result from frequent nose-mining are susceptible to infection. Research from the Netherlands shows nose-pickers have higher concentrations of harmful microorganisms in their beaks. More research shows nose pickers often tear through the cartilage that keeps their nostrils separate—a breach that sometimes requires surgery.
YOU RUB YOUR EYES
Different parts of your eye are held in place by tiny threads of collagen. When you rub your eyes, that creates pressure and damages the collagen, which can lead to blurry or streaking vision and other problems, shows research from—where else?—the journal Cornea. Some case studies have found rubbing can even lead to a detached retina, which requires surgery and could lead to blindness. Your corneas are especially vulnerable right after you’ve removed your contacts.
YOU HOLD IN YOUR FARTS
It’s not cool to crop dust a conference meeting, or gas your dinner date. But suppressing your farts creates lots of pressure in your colon, which can eventually lead to the development of sacs called diverticula, shows research from New Zealand. (In fact, that study finds fart suppression is the number one cause of diverticula.) On their own, these sacs can cause stomach pain and constipation. If they burst, which is common, that can lead to fever, severe pain, and a potentially life-threatening infection of your intestines. It takes years for that to happen. But if you’re in the habit of holding in your farts even when no one’s around, quit it.
YOU SIT WRONG WHEN YOU SHIT
Imagine taking a dump in the wild. You’d squat—a position that would raise your knees well above your butt. Modern toilets don’t replicate this squatting position. That’s too bad, because sitting (as opposed to squatting) creates kinks in your anal canal that can cause hemorrhoids, constipation, and other health issues, finds research from Japan. The solution? Keeping a stool by your toilet—something you can use to elevate your feet while you crap—removes those anal kinks.
YOU USE Q TIPS TO CLEAN YOUR EARS
Earwax is a natural antibiotic and sealant, which is why your body produces it. When you wipe it away, you’re opening yourself up to infection. It’s also common for people who use cotton swabs to unwittingly force wax deeper into their ear canals and against their eardrums, which can lead to everything from balance issues to deafness, shows a study from the UK. While gently cleaning the edges of your ear canal with a Q tip shouldn’t do much harm, jamming the whole thing in there—especially if you do it all the time—is problematic.
Most of the stuff your body does, it does for a reason. If you’re trying to clear away or contradict those natural processes, you’re asking for it.