1. What’s Living in Your Nose?
  • What’s Living in Your Nose?

    mars 22, 2017
    By Janna Fischer/3M Storyteller

    Close up image of a woman smelling a white flower

    What’s Living in Your Nose?

    The arbiter of scent! The filterer of air! The transmitter of taste! Ah, the many wonders of the human nose.

    Although we often take this vital organ for granted, the nose – sometimes referred to as the guardian of the lungs – plays an essential role in our overall health. It protects our lungs by filtering dirt and germs out of the air we breathe. And on cold winter days, our nose warms and humidifies the air before it reaches our delicate lung tissue.

    Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, computer artwork

    Since the nose is one of the body’s first lines of defense against airborne intruders, it’s no surprise that all types of germs and bacteria take up residence there.

    One especially stubborn germ – Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) – is commonly found in the nose or on the skin of healthy individuals. In fact, about one in three of us carry it in our noses, according to the CDC. 

    Most of the time, these bacteria cause no harm or result in relatively minor skin infections. In healthcare settings, however, the CDC says these infections can be serious or fatal.

    Computer artwork of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria

    “We have bacteria all over our bodies, most of which is good bacteria. But when it comes to surgery, you don’t want the bacteria on your own skin getting into your wounds.”


    Image of 3M Skin and Nasal Antiseptic and swabs

    Those of us who have S. aureus in our noses carry a risk of developing an infection from this bacteria after surgery. 3M scientists wanted to help address the rising concern about surgical site infections caused by S. aureus. They figured out a way to help reduce the bacteria in the nasal passages prior to surgery.

    The 3M Skin and Nasal Antiseptic is applied to patients’ nostrils before surgery. 3M clinical studies show that it kills 99.5 percent of S. aureus in the nostrils in one hour and maintains that level for at least twelve hours (data on file at 3M).

    Close up image of bacteria

    “The job of cilia and mucous in our nose is to catch foreign particles like particulates and microorganisms and clear them out of our respiratory tract. This makes it tricky for antimicrobials to reach and kill bacteria. 3M’s nasal antiseptic is made of film-forming materials that enable the active ingredient to stick around long enough to kill the bacteria.”


    A woman lies in a hospital bed while the doctor treats her with 3M Skin and Nasal Antiseptic

    The active ingredient is an antiseptic and has not been shown to lead to acquired antibiotic resistance, according to a 3M study (data on file at 3M). This is important, as today’s hospitals continue to face a rising threat of antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains like MRSA.

    The nasal antiseptic also helps solve the patient compliance challenge. With other preoperative nasal interventions, the patient is expected to remember to apply an ointment twice every day for numerous days leading up to surgery.

    “Our product is applied one hour prior to surgery in the healthcare setting,” said Matt, “so you know the patient has been properly protected.”


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