health

Decode The Color Of Your Snot To Better Understand Your Health

becca Rebecca Endicott

Let’s all just get out in front of this one and admit it: we’ve all blown our noses, then looked at the tissue afterward.

It’s gross, but humans are inherently curious, and it’s in our nature to want to know stuff, even truly icky stuff. And as it turns out, checking your tissue after you sneeze or blow your nose may actually be a healthy habit to get into.

We’re not saying it’s a behavior to necessarily publicize, but just as we saw with this guide to the perfect poop, knowing “yucky” information can have a huge, positive impact on your health.

The scoop on snot is no different. You can learn a ton about your body and what it may or may not be going through. To piece together your health picture, you can start with one basic piece of information: the color of your mucus.

Scroll through the gallery below to learn how to decode your snot, and what each color means for your health.

Thumbnail Photo Credit: Flickr/Wikimedia Commons

Snot Color #1: Clear

Snot Color #1: Clear
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Good news. If you’re blowing clear, you’re probably pretty healthy!

Clear mucus is the basic form that your body produces all of the time to do things like catch germs on their way in through your nose and mouth.

According to WebMD, it also helps to keep your throat and nose from getting dry and painful.

So don’t worry, you’re always supposed to be producing some of the clear stuff.

Snot Color #2: White, Cloudy

Snot Color #2: White, Cloudy
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If you notice that your snot is coming out white and gluey, meaning that it’s thick and extra sticky, you might want to monitor your health for the next few days and get plenty of vitamin C.

ABC News says that white mucus is one of the first signs of a brewing cold, sometimes before the full-blown sneezing and coughing starts.

If you’re noticing whitish colors in lumps of hardened mucus, or “boogers,” that’s most likely clear mucus that just solidified.

Snot Color #3: Yellow

Snot Color #3: Yellow
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Yellow mucus is usually a sign that your cold is settling in for a while.

If you’re noticing yellow snot in your tissue, it’s a good indicator that you’re truly, properly sick.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, this hue shows up when white blood cells ride into to protect the body from germs. Despite their name, large numbers of white blood cells appear yellow in our mucus.

Snot Color #4: Green

Snot Color #4: Green
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If your snot turns bright green, that’s often an indicator that your illness is progressing, and it may be time to visit your doctor, especially if you’re experiencing fever, severe cough, or other troubling symptoms.

A greenish tint may simply indicate that your body is producing even more white blood cells.

However, according to WebMD, it may also mean that the cold-causing virus is proliferating and reproducing, making your snot green in color and turning into a full-blown sinus infection that may need professional treatment.

Snot Color #5: Red Or Pink

Snot Color #5: Red Or Pink
Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

It’s always alarming when your body produces shades of red or pink because it usually means blood is involved.

This case is no different, but it’s not necessarily cause for serious alarm if you find blood in your mucus.

A full-blown gushing nosebleed is one thing, but mucus that’s just tinged pink or red most likely indicates that you’ve simply abraded the sensitive blood vessels inside your nose, perhaps due to overzealous blowing or, ahem, picking.

Snot Color #6: Brown

Snot Color #6: Brown
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Finding brown snot in your hankie generally indicates that you have dried blood in your nose or sinuses somewhere.

Most likely, you have a small internal injury healing somewhere and accidentally blew loose the scab or dried blood.

Another explanation? Tobacco, especially chewing tobacco, can dye your saliva and mucus a brownish color.

Snot Color #7: Black

Snot Color #7: Black
Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

It’s truly alarming to find black mucus after you blow your nose, but don’t panic just yet.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, most black mucus is simply the result of inhaling smoke or soot, which tinges your snot gray or black.

If it continues or you haven’t been around smoke, get it checked out straight away. It could be a fungal infection.

Snot Color #8: Rainbow Hues

Snot Color #8: Rainbow Hues
Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

Now, before you start laughing, it is perfectly possible to end up with a totally unnatural color in your mucus.

We aren’t necessarily talking a full-blown, unicorn-style rainbow here, but inhaling any kind of foreign material is bound to affect your snot.

If, for example, you get colorful chalk up your nose playing with your kids, it is not at all unlikely that your snot will run blue and purple for a day or two afterward.

Were you surprised to learn how many colors snot can come in? Weigh in below, and don’t forget to SHARE this handy guide with friends and family!