How do you stop touching your face?

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Part of the advice we’ve received to help keep us well and healthy and limit the spread of the coronavirus is to stop touching our faces.

But this can be hard right? You may not know this but we can touch our faces up to 16 times an hour. So we’ve got put together some tips that may help you break this habit.

How do viruses spread when we touch our faces?

Touching your face can significantly increase the risk of infection. This includes the cold and flu and now the new coronavirus.

Your eyes and mouth are areas where viruses can easily enter your body. We touch our faces so often that the odds of recontaminating our hands between washings are extremely high.

We all do it. We touch our faces countless times every day. An itchy nose, tired eyes, wiping your mouth with the back of your hand are all things we do without a second thought.

We touch our faces all the time

In a couple of small studies, scientists researching behaviour found that people are constantly touching their faces.

In a 2008 study, 10 subjects were each observed alone in an office environment for 3 hours. Researchers found they touched their faces an average of 16 times per hour.

Another study from 2015 observed 26 medical students at a university in Australia. This study found they touched their faces 23 times per hour. Almost half of the face touches involved the mouth, nose, or eyes, which are the easiest pathways for viruses and bacteria to enter our bodies.

While both studies were small they reinforced that face touching is a common behaviour. Think about it, how often do you touch you face in an hour?

Tips for breaking the habit

Here are some tips to help you avoid touching your face.

  • Be mindful about your intention to keep your hands away from your face. Just a brief pause can help you be more aware of what you’re doing with your hands.
  • Place reminders like Post-it notes in your home or office where you can see them to remind you to keep your hands away from your face.
  • Keep your hands busy. If you’re at home watching TV, try folding laundry, sort through mail, or hold something in your hands.
  • Use a scented hand sanitizer or a scented hand soap to draw your attention to your hands. It will help remind you to keep hands away from your face.
  • If you know you habitually touch your face wearing gloves can be an effective physical reminder.

While it may be tough at first, and take a while to get used to, following these simple tips may help you stop touching your face during the coronavirus outbreak. It’s a healthy new habit to get in to.

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