Snot Colours explained

What do all the colours of the snot rainbow mean, and do you need to worry about them?

Adapted from the Blog article on snot from 06/05/2019.

I love a good rainbow, especially a double rainbow, but the idea of a snot rainbow is not filling me with joy.


It’s not really the kind of picture you want your darling little one to be turning up with from school, is it...?

But the colour of snot does change, depending on how thick it is, and what is in it, so which colours mean what? And does it matter? Here at Welly and Bloom we are all about kids' health simplified, so here we go:

Clear -

This is the 'normal' colour of snot, and what our children would all produce if they lived in a Moana-esque island paradise with no illness or pollution... It's also what you produce when you have a runny nose because of allergies (like hay fever - no infection involved).



White -

This is clear snot gone thick - usually an early sign of a little bit of inflammation (war is brewing) in your nose. When your nose is irritated it causes the mucus flow to slow down and gives it time to dry out and thicken up.



Yellow -

When snot goes yellow, this is usually because your body is fighting some sort of infection: when the little white blood cells of your immune system have fought their best and done their job (these guys are a bit like the foot soldiers on the ground) then they come out in your snot. It's all part of the body's clean-up operation.


Green -

Now the war is raging - green is the colour of one of the chemicals inside your white blood cells, so when there are loads of white blood cell casualties (and other bits of battle-wreckage) in your snot, it turns green. This means that your body is in full on attack mode, but it could still be 'just' a virus, no need to rush to the GP for antibiotics for the green bogies (6)- it's all part of the war effort.

Pink -

Pink and red snot is caused by a little bit of blood joining in too, on account of a bit of damage to the lining of your nose, this can be caused by the swelling and inflammation (the heat of battle) of having a cold, or could be caused by curious little fingers....or the occasional stray Lego.... are you SURE you haven't put anything up there...??


Brown/Black -

Grey and brown snot is mainly caused by pollution - think car fumes, passive smoking, dust etc, but occasionally black snot can be a sign of a fungal infection (you'd more than likely be ill in many other serious ways which you would already be seeing a doctor for to get one of these... and you'd already know about don't worry about that one for now!)

Hopefully, we've not spoiled the rainbow for you forever...

But most importantly, this just goes to show that it's not the colour of the snot that decides how ill you are or if you need to see the doctor. It always comes down to how your little ones are in themselves, and if they just don't seem right, or if you are worried about them, then that's a good sign you ought to go and get them seen.


If you want to know more about how to deal with bunged up noses then have a look at another Welly and Bloom article for you right here...