Kids love to stick things in their noses. It's such a convenient place to hide everything from peas to pieces of paper. We rounded up some of the strangest things we've heard of that went up a nose — and how to get them back out.

Darria Long Gillespie, M.D., is an instructor in the Harvard Medical School Department of Emergency Medicine. "When I started training as an emergency doctor, I had no idea that I would become such an ‘Objects in Nose Removal Expert'! But children are constantly finding new things to put in their noses, and it's a regular event," she shares.

DIY or doc?

Dr. Long Gillespie advises to only try removing it yourself if all the following are present:

  • You have a cooperative child that will stay still and someone strong to hold them still. You don't want to try and get ahold of the object just as they start to struggle and end up pushing the object even further into their nose.
  • You can see the object sticking out of the nose when you look head-on at your child.
  • You are able to compress the nostril above/behind the object.

If you can't do all of these, then don't try this at home, as attempts could push the object into their trachea (windpipe), which would be life-threatening. “Avoid sticking anything (tweezers, Q-tips) far into the nose — doing so may only push the object even further back,” she says. “Only try to get it yourself if the object is so close to the front that you can easily see it. If you start to push it back at all, stop.”

Give it a blow

Renee Petro always gave her toddler daughter opportunities to learn while shopping at the supermarket. “She asked to hold and smell a coffee bean,” she recalls. “When I asked her where it was, she said she put it in her nose when sniffing it.” Petro rushed her daughter to the ER, where she promptly sneezed the coffee bean out.

tip^"Best first-line is to have the child blow their nose," says Dr. Long Gillespie. “Compress the clear nostril with your finger while they do this, to push all of the air out of the one with the object. Even better is to get them to sneeze (while compressing the clear nostril), which will have the greatest force.” Try pepper, or walking into the bright sunlight.

Slimy surprise

“About a month ago, my 5-year-old son kept blowing his nose saying he had a big booger,” shares Julie Spano. Three days later, he pulled one of his sister's hair rubber bands out of his nose,” she says. “Best of all, he claims he has no idea how it got there or how long it's been in there.”

tip^“If the object is toward the front of the nose, use your finger and thumb to compress the nose behind the object, and with a Q-tip or tweezers, reach in and try to remove the object,” says Dr. Long Gillespie. ”Try having the child sit straight up and you kneel below them, so you're looking up into the nose,” she suggests. “This makes sure that gravity is on your side, and reduces the likelihood of the object going backwards.”

Too far gone

Chris Melton's family was on a road trip when their son yelled, “Gracie put an almond up her nose!" They pulled over and tried to remove the almond (which they couldn't even see) from the 2-year-old's nose, but no luck. Fortunately, they were able to find a local doctor who removed the rather large almond with an assortment of strange tools.

Maureen Richmond's 2-year-old son complained that his nose hurt while watching a movie. He had a half-popped popcorn kernel as far in as she could see. “I spent 30 minutes trying to suction or maneuver the kernel, and ended up having to go to our local children's hospital,” she recalls. “The nurse said it was so high I would have never gotten it.”

tip^“Well-intentioned efforts to remove an object can push it further back, converting what was a nuisance into a life-threatening emergency,” says Dr. Long Gillespie. “I always tell my patients that when in doubt, bring in the child. You're much better off leaving it alone yourself and just going to your doctor than trying too many ‘tricks' at home that could just make the situation worse,” she adds.

Share with us!^ What odd things have your kids stuck up a nose? Leave us a comment below!

More kid stories

What to do when your child has a nosebleed
Not vaccinating your kid puts my kid at risk
How to recognize child abuse

Topics: