One of the most common ways to catch a virus is by touching a surface where the virus lives and then touching your face. This is why everyone must stop touching their face as often as we have grown accustomed to doing. The average person is estimated to touch their face between 16 and 23 times an hour meaning that even if you wash your hands regularly you have every chance of still contaminating and catching something. Here are some helpful tips to stop you from touching your face so much.
When the coronavirus pandemic started to explode there was some very good advice released by the CDC and WHO, that people should avoid touching their faces as much as possible. The coronavirus or COVID-19 is a respiratory virus and is transmitted from person to person. This means you can catch the virus directly from someone if they sneeze or cough and release small respiratory droplets into the air. If you breathe in those droplets you can catch the infection. The second and far more hidden way is when someone touches a virus contaminated surface and then touches their faces. The eyes, nose, and mouth are the easiest way to transmit an infection so if you touch any of these parts of the face you greatly increase your risk of infection.
Depending on the virus it can survive on a surface for anywhere from a few hours to several days, at present we are not certain how long the coronavirus lasts on surfaces. This is why we must follow CDC guidelines as best we can. The reality is that the virus needs to pass to others to survive so if everyone washes their hands, doesn’t touch their face, and practices social distancing we can rule out the two ways of spreading the virus and it will die. It sounds straight forward but it is extremely difficult.
According to one study from 2008 people touch their faces 16 times an hour, a different study from 2015 found that it was higher at 23 times per hour. The number of times is not exactly important, what is clear to see is that everyone does it a lot and usually without realizing it. Some people have a nervous habit where they scratch their nose, others always rub their eyes. People are touching their faces ever 3 or 4 minutes.
This means that even if you are incredibly thorough when you wash your hands and remove any possible virus, you may just pick it up again the next time you touch a surface. If you touch your face between hand washes you still have a good chance of contamination. The best thing to do then is to train yourself to stop touching your face completely and it can be done.
When I leave the house, I tell myself I will not touch my face, within seconds it becomes itchy. As if my brain wants to mock me, it says now that we know you don’t want to itch, we will make you want to itch so badly. Yet I persevere. Soon though my brain switches into its normal routine and I catch myself touching my touch. According to experts the best way to stop is to have a reminder at all times. The best approach is to rub your hands in something smelly (soap or cream), preferably a chemical smell that will trigger a reaction as it comes close to your face, and remind you not to touch. If you sit at a desk you could have post-its on your monitor. Another great idea is the gloves. Gloves do not stop the spread of a virus. If you touch a contaminated surface wearing gloves and then touch your face, it will still spread. Gloves can remind people not to touch their faces though and that is a very useful reaction. If you do decide to use gloves you should still wash your hands right after as unless you are trained, most people will contaminate their hands in the way they remove their gloves. If you are really bad at touching your face we recommend just holding something at all times. Holding a tissue in each hand while walking around is useful or even while watching TV as a way of training yourself.
The reality is that everyone is touching their faces all the time and it is a tough habit to break. However, it is an extremely important one to break. If you can do this you could remain healthy yourself and stop spreading the virus. Even in the days after the coronavirus, removing a habit like this will benefit you.