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A Preliminary Survey of Rhinotillexomania in an Adolescent Sample

J Clin Psychiatry 2001;62(6):426-431

Background: Rhinotillexomania is a recent term coined to describe compulsive nose picking. There is little world literature on nose-picking behavior in the general population.

Method: We studied nose-picking behavior in a sample of 200 adolescents from 4 urban schools.

Results: Almost the entire sample admitted to nose picking, with a median frequency of 4 times per day; the frequency was > 20 times per day in 7.6% of the sample. Nearly 17% of subjects considered that they had a serious nose-picking problem. Other somatic habits such as nail biting, scratching in a specific spot, or pulling out of hair were also common; 3 or more such behaviors were simultaneously present in 14.2% of the sample, only in males. Occasional nose bleeds complicating nose picking occurred in 25% of subjects. Several interesting findings in specific categories of nose pickers were identified.

Conclusion: Nose picking is common in adolescents. It is often associated with other habitual behaviors. Nose picking may merit closer epidemiologic and nosologic scrutiny.