Can You Get Sick From Using The Nose Frida? Experts Aren’t Too Worried
That little sponge filter is doing God’s work.
Being a parent today can be intense (you may have heard about the whole shortage of childcare thing, or maybe the recent children’s medication shortages in the U.S.). But we also have more health tools for babies than ever before, like the Nose Frida nasal aspirator, and these helpful gadgets go a long way in helping worried parents make their sick little ones feel better. That said, if you’ve ever used a snot sucker, you’ve probably wondered if you yourself can get sick from using the Nose Frida.
This snot sucker — a blue tube you place just inside baby’s nostril, attached to a tube and mouthpiece for you to suction with — is designed to clear out congestion and excess mucus for babies or toddlers too young to blow their noses yet. It’s become a huge hit with parents, racking up nearly 30,000 reviews and a 4.7-star rating on Amazon alone. The Nose Frida filters included are meant to keep snot and boogers from going through the tube and into your mouth (*blech*), but are they enough to keep the germs and viruses that got your baby sick from making their way through? Experts say it’s crucial for parents to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning the snot sucker.
Can you get sick from using the Nose Frida on your baby?
The short answer is yes, but experts explain that if you clean your snot sucker properly, using it won’t really make you any more likely to get sick. Your baby has probably already sneezed on you anyway.
“The device must be cleaned properly between uses; otherwise, it could potentially spread infectious agents,” says Dr. Margarita Jimenez, pediatrician at Texas Children’s Pediatrics. “The device contains a filter and, according to the manufacturer, that filter should be replaced after every use. When used according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, that filter has been shown to prevent the transmission of bacteria and mucus. However, there is no data that the filter blocks the much smaller virus particles.”
Studies have concluded that Nose Frida filters do prevent the spread of bacteria, but the spread of viruses wasn’t examined in those studies, says Dr. Darby McElderry, pediatrician at Children’s of Alabama. Still, she and other experts feel that using a nasal aspirator doesn’t increase your risk of getting sick. As parents know all too well, they’re already exposed to all of their baby’s bodily fluids as it is.
“While we cannot say that the filter will prevent germs from coming into close contact with the parent during suctioning, I do think it’s very likely that a parent becomes ill along with their baby due to the child sneezing, coughing, and nose blowing or wiping in close proximity to the parent, nasal aspiration or not,” Dr. McElderry says. “The use of a nasal aspirator is unlikely to increase the parent’s risk.”
“While there are no clinical studies about transmission of certain viruses, like COVID-19, the risk of becoming infected with the virus may not necessarily increase by using the Nose Frida,” says Dr. Shalika Katugaha, medical director of infectious diseases at Baptist Health. “Parents are exposed to the baby’s cough, sneezes, tears, and saliva, and these exposures can lead to viral transmission regardless of nasal suction. The most important preventative measure for parents taking care of sick children is frequent hand washing.”
Do you have to change the Nose Frida filter after every use?
Yes, you do, and after you see all that snot in the tube, you’re going to understand why. FridaBaby advises parents to change the hygiene filter after every use. But before you pop in a clean filter, you’ll need to sanitize all the other parts of the snot sucker properly.
The manufacturer’s website advises that after each use, parents should:
- Throw away the used filter.
- Take apart the Nose Frida and wash the mouthpiece and blue plastic rube with soap and water. Leave out the thin, clear tube.
- Clean the tube with a few drops of rubbing alcohol.
- Allow all the parts to dry thoroughly. Add a new filter and put the pieces back together.
What are the dangers of suctioning baby’s nose?
If you’ve ever suctioned your little one’s nose, they almost definitely cried about it. Seeing them upset can make you question, is the Nose Frida harmful? These experts agree that as long as you use it as directed on the manufacturer’s website, it’s safe.
“Nose Frida is designed to be safe and effective for clearing nasal congestion in young children,” says Dr. Jimenez. “However, it is imperative that the device is used properly. If the suction is too strong or the device is inserted too far into the child’s nasal cavity, it may cause discomfort or even injury to the nasal passages. Anecdotally, nose bleeds have been reported with Nose Frida. Applying a few drops of saline solution to each nostril before use might make the process more comfortable for the child. If a caregiver has questions, it is always best to consult with your child's pediatrician or a healthcare professional on how to use the device properly.
“These products are generally safe to use and provide an alternative to the traditional bulb syringe for nasal suction,” adds Dr. McElderry. “When used according to package directions, there is little risk involved. “One possible side effect from nasal aspiration includes irritation of the nasal mucosa (lining), which can lead to swelling and bleeding. If this occurs, discontinue use and contact your child’s medical provider.”
In other words, be sure you place the snot sucker at the opening of your little one’s nostril, and don’t suction too hard. All three doctors recommend using a gentle saline spray in baby’s nose before suctioning to loosen up all that gunk.
Is it OK to use Nose Frida every day?
The Nose Frida website says parents can use the device no more than six times in a 24-hour period. That said, doctors advise limiting that number to four times. “It is not recommended to suction more than four times per day,” says Dr. McElderry.
But suctioning the mucus from your baby’s nose each day while they’re sick can be beneficial, as long as you’re not overdoing it.
“Try not to overuse these devices since they can cause some swelling in the nose,” adds Dr. Katugaha. “Nasal aspiration with a medical device — the Nose Frida is FDA-approved — associated with a saline solution, during viral rhinitis (a common cold), has been shown to lower the risk of developing acute otitis media (ear infections) and rhinosinusitis (sinus infections), in comparison with a group treated with saline solution alone.”
While it’s not known whether a virus can pass through the Nose Frida filters and get parents sick, experts agree that using snot suckers doesn’t make you any more likely to fall ill than taking care of a sick baby does anyway. And if you want to avoid using your mouth anywhere near your baby’s snot, you could always opt for a product like the electric Nose Frida instead. Truly, no one would blame you.
Dr. Margarita Jimenez, pediatrician at Texas Children’s Pediatrics
Dr. Shalika Katugaha, medical director of Infectious Diseases at Baptist Health
Dr. Darby McElderry, pediatrician at Children’s of Alabama