Mucus, Snot, and Booger Colors: What is Normal for Kids?

Mucus – also known as snot or boogers – is a normal part of the body. But what if it changes color? What do booger colors tell us about our health?

Booger colors - what is normal and when to worry

Mucus is everywhere

First, you have to know that mucus is a slimy substance that covers and protects the inside of your organs.

Mucus is ALL OVER the inside of your body!

Is that gross or pretty cool? Or maybe a bit of both?

What does mucus do?

Mucus has a few important jobs in your amazing human body:

  • It acts like lotion inside your nose, mouth, and lungs.
  • It traps dirt, dust, and germs so that they can’t get into the body.
  • It has white blood cells that fight things that bother the body.
Immune System white blood cells

Different booger colors and what they mean

Clear mucus

Normal mucus is thin with no color.

However, the body makes more mucus if the nose and airways get irritated from allergies or infections.

This is when boogers start to get stringy and runny.

White, yellow, or green mucus

When the nose gets irritated and the body makes more white blood cells, boogers can suddenly get thick, uncomfortable, and change. This is when kids see white, yellow, or green booger colors.

Most of the time, this is caused by a virus.

Pink or red mucus

Dry air, like from a heater, mouth-breathing, and nose-picking can cause blood-tinged boogers.

Blowing your nose too hard can also cause bloody boogers. This happens to a lot of kids!

How to get nose booger colors back to normal

Clear runny boogers

Check with your doctor to find out the cause of clear runny mucus.

  • If it’s allergies, a steroid nose spray can often make kids feel a lot better.
  • If it’s a virus, it usually gets better in a few days or a little over a week.

White, yellow, or green booger colors

Kids with white, yellow, or green boogers usually get better in a week because the body’s immune system can fight off a virus.

  • Shower steam, humidifier, and saline (salt water) drops or spray can help a stuffy nose feel better.
  • If boogers worsen, stick around for more than ten days, or come with a high fever, this MIGHT mean there’s a bacterial infection…
  • As always, check with your doctor!

Pink or red-tinged booger colors

  • A humidifier and saline drops or spray can help with dryness.
  • Keeping hands busy can help break a nose-picking habit, too!

More facts about boogers and other human body colors

Human Body Learning has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on information from peer-reviewed research studies, academic institutions, and medical associations.

Published on March 14, 2022. Updated on February 5, 2024 by Betty Choi, MD

Published on March 14, 2022. Updated on February 5, 2024 by Betty Choi, MD

Dr. Betty Choi pediatrician

Betty Choi, MD

Dr. Betty Choi is a Harvard-trained pediatrician who makes learning fun and doable. She created the kids’ anatomy book Human Body Learning Lab, which Science Magazine recommended as a “notable standout in the genre.”