Safely Get an Object Out of Your Kid’s Nose

Photo credit: Markus Spiske

Kids under the age of 5 will stick just about anything up their noses. As a parent, your first panicked instinct is to try to dig it out. Next time, you’ll know better.

“Parents often use their fingers or tweezers to remove the object, which can end up pushing it further into the child’s nasal cavity,” says Joseph Campanelli, MD, ENT Surgeon at ZOOM+Care in Portland, OR. “The ‘kiss technique’ is a simple, effective, and less harmful maneuver to try first.”

Learn the 3-step technique.

In one key study, parents who executed the kiss technique had a 65% chance of successfully clearing their little one’s nose. Here’s how it’s done:

Step 1: Use your finger to close the nostril that doesn’t have the object stuck in it.

Step 2: Press your lips over your child’s mouth.

Step 3: Blow a quick blast of air into their mouth (think back to the last time you tried to shoot a spitball through a straw).

“The idea is to use air pressure to push the object from the back of the nose toward the front,” says Dr. Campanelli. “It’s very effective, provided your child is willing to sit through it.”

Perfect for beads, peas, and marbles.

Unlike the many other tools and techniques used to dislodge foreign objects from body cavities (according to the aforementioned study, they include a wax hook, old Eustachian tube catheter, Foley and Fogarty catheters, cupped forceps, hemostats, wire ear loops, and cyanoacrylate glue), very little can go wrong with a “kiss.”

“While it appears to work better with smooth, spherical objects like beads or peas compared to bulky ones like a crumpled bit of paper, it’s always worth trying before you take your child into the doctor,” says Dr. Campanelli. “If enough air pressure builds up behind the object… POP, out it goes.”

If it works on kids, should you try it on your adult friends and family members for fun? “Sure,” says Campanelli, “But the adult equivalent would simply be blowing your nose.”

Joseph Campanelli, MD, is a board-certified ENT Surgeon at ZOOM+Care in Portland, OR.

Nicole Zeman

Nicole Zeman is the mom of two brave and outrageously silly little girls in NE Portland and has written for Parents Magazine, Men's Health, Women's Health, and Cosmopolitan.

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