Back to blog

What Do The Colors of Boogers Mean?

What Do The Colors of Boogers Mean?

Guest Post by Katy Fleming, MA, LPC, BSN, RN

Boogers are an expected part of life. When your snot turns yellow or green, you may start to panic. Many people assume that an antibiotic and other treatments are necessary.

Our boogers, or mucus, change colors for various reasons. Before you run to the closest urgent care, learn what the colors of boogers mean.

What Do The Colors of Boogers Mean?

What Do The Colors of Boogers Mean?

Mucus goes by several nicknames including boogers or snot. Although icky at times, our mucus has an important function as a natural protection system. 

Your body produces about a quart of mucus daily. Most of it is swallowed to line our upper airways. 
When a stuffy, congested nose is coupled with yellow or green mucus, you may start worrying. Let’s talk about the meaning of mucus colors.

Clear Mucus 

Good news, your clear snot is completely healthy and expected. A clear runny nose is typically a sign of allergies

If your clear mucus is turning white accompanied by a stuffy nose, you may have nasal inflammation. Sometimes it’s a cold or sinusitis caused by a virus. 

Either way, white mucus isn’t typically a concern. Clear boogers are the goal, though! 

Yellow & Green Mucus 

Your boogers change to a yellow or green color when your body is fighting an infection. No fear, your body is equipped to fight viruses and bacteria. 

A common misconception is that yellow or green snot is an automatic sign of a bacterial infection— not true! Both viruses and bacteria change the color of our mucus.

Dark green mucus is a potential sign of a more serious infection. It’s important to discuss all of your symptoms with your physician to determine if treatment is necessary.

What Do The Colors of Boogers Mean?

Pink or Red Mucus

Irritation in our nasal passages may lead to tinges of pink or red in our mucus. 

Don’t let this scare you! Trace amounts of blood in your snot isn’t a reason to panic. The inside of your nose is most likely dry. In some instances, you may have a minor injury to the nasal passages, as well. 

Consider Additional Symptoms

Realistically, your physician can’t determine what’s going on without considering other symptoms. 

If you’re experiencing a mild fever, sneezing, cough, body aches, or sore throat, you may have an infection requiring further treatment.

For more severe symptoms such as a fever higher than 100.4°F, shortness of breath, producing more than a teaspoon of blood, or chest pain, seek medical attention. 

The color of your boogers alone doesn’t tell us everything. Your additional symptoms are vital pieces to diagnosing the problem.

Potential Treatment

The underlying cause of your problem will determine the necessary treatment. For many people, yellow and green snot is viral and will run its course. 

When your runny nose produces only clear mucus, consider allergies. Allergic rhinitis, or allergies, is caused by environmental factors such as dust. You can manage these symptoms with over-the-counter medication. 

For yellow or green mucus, an antibiotic isn’t always necessary. If you overdo it, your body will resist the antibiotics and they’ll stop working. 

If your yellow and green snot arrived with coughing and chest pain, additional testing may help determine the problem such as a chest x-ray.

When you notice light pink tinges of blood in your mucus, a saline nasal spray will help your dry nasal passages. 

Our little ones are constantly full of snot. Babies and younger children have smaller nasal passages that often get clogged. 

What Do The Colors of Boogers Mean?

Pediatric ENT, Dr. Steven Goudy, developed the NozeBot Nasal Aspirator, an electric nasal aspirator to give you hospital-grade suction. This easy-to-use, portable suction clears congestion and runny noses.

Want to learn more? You’ll love these:

Your mucus is a vital part of the body’s protection against germs. It may seem concerning when our boogers turn from clear to yellow. It’s important to assess for additional symptoms to see the full picture.

Follow Dr. Noze Best on Tik Tok for more helpful health tips and educational resources!

As a licensed counselor and registered nurse, Katy approaches freelance writing with years of experience and a unique perspective. Alongside her partner, Katy loves to travel the world and embrace other cultures from volcanoes in Iceland to villages in India. 

Let the NozeBot help clear those boogers!

The Nozebot is a battery-powered suction device designed to clear nasal congestion in babies and children.

Buy now

Sign up for our newsletter

Enter your email to receive special updates and offers from Dr. Noze Best.