Bacteria, viruses and germs love it when you keep touching your face frequently and allow them to enter their new home and wreck havoc in the human body by breeding and creating diseases. People don’t know, but they touch their faces quite frequently, more than a dozen times in a day and in these covid times, this habit should not only be discouraged, but gotten rid of completely. We will show you some ways to stop this habit of touching your face all the time without being aware of it.
There are some simple things that can be done easily to help break this disease creating habit of touching your face with your hands. Research has shown that frequently touching your face causes a significant increase in the infection risk, such as cold or flu and the latest pandemic causing Coronavirus.(1,2)
What Do The Studies Say? We Touch Our Faces Constantly: Research says…….
Studies have shown that people touch their faces more than a dozen times in one hour. The mouth, nose and the eyes are the areas of the face where the entry to the germs and viruses occurs into the body. The frequency of touching the faces with our hands is so high and so often that the chances of re-contaminating our hands between when we wash them again is very high.
Research has shown that human beings are constantly touching their faces. A study done in 2008 showed that people touch their faces an around 16 times in an hour.(3) One more study done in 2015 observed that people touch their faces 23 times in one hour.(4) Most of the people touching their faces involved their eyes, nose and mouth, which are the gateways for the bacteria and viruses to enter the human body.
Not only lay people, but medical professionals even with their ample knowledge of medicine, were found to be touching their faces about 19 times in 2 hours along with not following correct hand hygiene consistently.(5)
The CDC also recommends(6) wearing cloth face masks when in public places, as it can be difficult to keep a 6-foot distance from other people. Proper masking will decrease the transmission of the virus from infected people. However, healthcare workers are advised to wear surgical masks and N95 respirators.
According to experts, wearing gloves help in discarding this habit of touching your face frequently.
All of us are guilty of frequently touching our faces, be it touching that zit or removing the stray hair or scratching our nose, reapplying the makeup, wiping our mouth, rubbing the itchy nose, or just your tired eyes; just that unconscious straying of the hands to our face without even being aware of is the habit that needs to be broken.
We all touch our faces innumerable times throughout the day without even thinking about it.
Touching your face with a finger or hands that already carry a germ, which causes infection through eyes and mouth, as these 2 orifices in our face are where the virus enters the body easily.
Spreading of Infection: There Are Two Ways an Infection Gets Spread(7)
According to the CDC, SARS-CoV-2 spreads from one person to person, just like any other respiratory infections including transmission via respiratory droplets generated through sneezing and getting inhaled by other person. Infection also spreads when a person touches contaminated surface and then touches their face with the same hand.
Being around someone sick can be easily avoided and we can wear masks to prevent getting infected from airborne viruses; however, preventing the spread of the virus when it is on the surface is very difficult.
How to Break This Habit of Touching Your Face Constantly?(8)
When people are involved in their work, they play with their hair, shake their feet and then unknowingly touch their faces. One should find out the times when one is vulnerable to doing such kind of activities and then stay aware and try to prevent from doing so, even when on a phone call, meeting or just when engrossed in work.
Touching Your Face Is a Habit That You Can Break
You can easily break this habit of touching your face with your hands only if you keep some things in mind and follow some simple methods.
Be Mindful and Aware…
Always be aware and mindful and be strong about your intention to always keep your hands away from your face, no matter what. Remembering what you are doing and stopping just before your hands have strayed to your face will save you from a wealth of problems and go a long way in breaking this habit.
Keep Your Hands Busy….
Another thing to do is keeping your hands busy to prevent touching your face. If you are folding laundry or watching TV or sorting mail, then try holding something else in your hands, such as a tissue to remind you to not touch your face with your hands.
Other than this, one can place reminders, such as post-it notes at your work place and home where you can frequently read it and remember to keep your hands far-far away from your face.
Using Scented Hand Soap….
The use of scented hand soap or scented hand sanitizer can also remind you to keep your hands far away from your face, as the scent makes you aware of where your hands are.
Note: For people with sensitive skin, it is advised to avoid scented soaps and sanitizers.(10,11)
Wearing gloves, especially for someone who is perpetually in the habit of touching their face with their hands is an effective physical reminder.
Gloves can be worn when out in public places where the risk of getting exposed to touching contaminated surfaces is more. Wearing gloves when at home can be also beneficial in reminding and being aware of your hands and hence breaking the habit of touching your face frequently.
Intertwine Your Fingers…..
If you are attending a class or a meeting, then simply interlacing your fingers together and keeping them in your lap can help in reminding you that you are not supposed to touch your face.
Washing Your Hands Is the Key(9)
It is important to wash your hands frequently, especially after touching something. At least wash your hands for 20 seconds to completely clean them. However, clean hands can only help if we do not touch our faces, as we cannot be sure if and where we have picked a germ on our hands.
According to the CDC, there are five steps to effective hand washing and are:
- Wet your hands.
- Lather them with soap.
- Scrub them in each and every corner.
- Rinse your hands thoroughly with water.
- Dry them on a clean towel or cloth.
Since we touch our faces all the time, the chances of re-contamination of our hands between washings is very high. All it takes is just touching your phone, a doorknob or pressing a lift button to pick up something infectious on your finger and then touching your face, before you next wash your hands again.
What one can do to increase awareness about our hands is try wearing a rubber band or new ring or jewelry and these can act as reminders to not touch our face when we move our hands to do it. These kinds of reminders are important to increase awareness of when you are going to touch your face and to break this bad habit.
The orifices on our face, such as the mouth, nose and eyes are the easiest ways for not only SARS-CoV-2, but other pathogens to enter our body and cause illness.
All it takes is touching your face with hands that are contaminated and laded with germs, which occurs after touching any contaminated surface. The frequency of washing your hands doesn’t matter if you are touching your face all the time, as there will be a risk of re-contamination anyway.
The most effective way to prevent transmission of any infections is to avoid touching your face as much as you can. The simple methods mentioned in this article will help a lot in breaking this habit of constantly touching your face by increasing your awareness of what you are doing with your hands.