From time to time there are cases when I would really like someone (a friend/acquaintance of mine) to blow their nose, whether it be because they're constantly sniffling, or that I can see snot in their nose. Neither of those are nice things, so I really want them to blow their nose.

Is there any way of hinting at them to blow their nose? Or a certain way I could use to ask them to blow it?

This situation usually occurring around other friends/people too, so I don't want to say/do something that would place them in an awkward situation around other people.


3 Answers 3


From the perspective of someone with allergies: I'm usually acutely aware of my sniffling, so it can be mildly embarrassing and annoying when someone mentions it. So I'm glad you're being mindful of not putting them in an awkward position!

I do not recommend hinting around, like asking "do you need to blow your nose?" -- this comes across as very condescending, as if I'm a child who needs to be reminded how to take care of my own body.

Instead, if they're sniffling, let them know you have tissues if they'd like one: "do you need a tissue? I've got some in my bag". This is a polite offer (maybe I don't have any with me but didn't want to ask) and leaves the choice up to me (not pushy).

If they decline, you could hint a little: holding out a tissue, asking "you sure you don't want one?" when they start sniffling again. But, be aware that mentioning it repeatedly starts to feel like the first option (and honestly sometimes, like with a cold - I'd rather sniffle a bit than go through a million tissues and sandpaper the skin off my nose). So you'll need to weigh the irritation of listening to their sniffles (and/or if you think they're embarrassing themself in front of others) vs. how much you think they'd be irritated by your request.

However, if it's more of a visible problem, you can treat it in the same way you would tell them they had something in their teeth - a quick "hey, you might wanna blow your nose", with a discreet gesture to indicate usually gets the message across. This is pretty universally embarrassing, so regardless of feelings about sniffles I've always appreciated being made aware of this.


My default in the situation of visible boogers is, "The bats are escaping the cave!" and casually handing over a tissue. Works for everyone from toddlers to seniors and no one has been offended yet.

  • 3
    I've never heard that expression, and I truly find it very funny. However, I do wonder if people are offended and don't say anything. But if they actually aren't offended, it's a great comical way to get the message across. I'm willing to try it with close friends, but I'm concerned it may offend others. Apr 3 at 21:42

I can only speak for myself, but I would consider asking "do you need a tissue?" to be just as condescending as "do you need to blow your nose?".

If you really want, what you can do is blow your own nose to indicate you have plenty of tissues at your disposal.

But the onus is really on the snotty person to deal with their snot. If they aren't dealing with it, there's a good chance it's because they don't care about how it impacts others, or aren't aware of the impact. That leaves you with the choice of making them aware of the impact on you, or to try to be more accepting of the sound and sight of their snot.

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