Dangerous touching of the face: how to stop it

We all do that. We touch our face countless times every day. To rub tired eyes, to pick out a snot from the nose or at least to remove an itch, to wipe the mouth with the back of the hand, for men to scratch their beards, for girls – to fix their makeup – this is what we do without thinking.

However, touching your face can significantly increase your risk of contracting the flu or cold virus, but it’s especially risky now, during the coronavirus pandemic.

Your mouth, nose, and eyes are the easiest places for viruses to enter your body, and all it takes is touching them with a potentially infected finger. We touch our faces so often that in the short period of time between touches, the chances of catching a virus on our hands are extremely high.

Two ways of transmission of infection

The new coronavirus, which is also called SARS-CoV-2, is transmitted from person to person, like many other respiratory infections. These include respiratory droplets that occur when someone sneezes, and which, when inhaled, enter the other people’s lungs, or through hand contact with a surface infected with the virus, which we used to touch our own eyes or mouth.

While we can avoid being around someone who is clearly sick, or take precautions against airborne viruses by wearing a mask, it is almost impossible to avoid the virus when it is on a surface.

Dangerous touching of the face

We constantly touch our faces

Scientists who study behavioral reactions have long discovered that people constantly touch their faces. In one experiment, ten subjects were observed alone in an office environment for three hours. The study found that they touch their faces an average of sixteen times an hour.

In 2015, medical students at an Australian university were similarly monitored, finding that they touched their faces 23 times an hour. Almost half of the touches to the face involved the mouth, nose or eyes, which are the easiest ways for viruses and bacteria to enter our bodies. Even healthcare workers, who should know better about it, touch their faces an average of 19 times in 2 hours, while failing to maintain proper hand hygiene.

“When you’re active, people often shake their leg, play with their hair, or touch their face. For those who know body language, it certainly helps to know when you’re most vulnerable, interested, excited, trying to stay informed during a meeting, on a phone call, or at work, etc.,” says Dr. Alex Dimitriou, California. Of course, an interesting fact, but let’s go back to security.

Hand washing is currently a key point of protection

Therefore, we take safety measures during a pandemic – we wash our hands often with soap and for at least 20 seconds. But that can only help if we don’t touch our faces, as there’s no way to know when exactly you’ve picked up a tiny and potentially deadly passenger. All it takes is touching a doorknob or any infected surface and you’re back in danger.

One reminder of the danger of touch can be: “A watch, a new ring, a bracelet, or even a rubber band around your wrist. These ‘extra’ items are ideal to help you remember not to touch your face,” Dimitriou said. – However, there must be something else to not encourage automatic behavior”.

This is a habit you can break

Zachary Sikora, a psychologist at the Northwestern Medicine Clinic in Huntley, Illinois, offered the following tips for avoiding touching your face during the coronavirus outbreak.

  1. Keep your hands busy. As a workout, when you’re at home watching TV, try folding laundry, sorting papers, or holding something in your hands. At the meeting, hold a notebook, phone or pencil in your hands (it is also recommended to treat them with an antiseptic afterwards).
  2. Use scented hand sanitizer or scented soap. A pleasant, strong smell from your hands will be a reminder to keep them away from your face. The smell will draw your attention to where your palms are at a given time.
  3. If you are in a meeting or in a classroom (even online), interlace your fingers together and place them in your lap.
  4. Finally, wearing sunglasses outside 🕶 and gloves can be an effective physical reminder. If you have been self-isolating at home for a long time and your family members are healthy, such a precaution is not necessary. But you can wear goggles and gloves when you’re out in public and most likely touching surfaces that potentially have the virus. At home, carefully remove the gloves and throw them in the trash. Spray the glasses with an antiseptic.

It may seem unusual, almost a fetish, but wearing any kind of gloves and glasses around the house can also help you break the habit of touching your face.

Taking into account the advice of American doctors, if you currently do not prefer disposable gloves, you can try to draw a cross (or something else) at the base of the thumb before leaving the house. It helps to think for a moment and it is enough to remember the strange modern apocalyptic security devices.

It is a little easier for girls in this case – a couple of drops of aromatic oil or your favorite perfume on your wrist and bracelets really works.

It’s possible that after the pandemic is over, many of us will need extra help from specialists to break the habit of washing our hands every half hour, showering with antiseptics, and passing out when someone next to us sneezes, or shoot a stranger with a cough, but without a mask, next to you. So let’s be careful and be optimistic.

Wash your hands, stay home and stay calm. Let’s be healthy!

The article uses materials from sources

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