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.
Your mouth and eyes are areas where viruses can enter the body most easily, and all it takes is touching them with a finger already carrying an infection.
Scientists researching this behavior find that people are constantly touching their faces.
In one 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.
Handwashing is key
So, we take precautions like washing our hands often and using at least 20 seconds to do so. But this can only help if we also avoid touching our faces, as there’s no way of knowing when you’ve picked up a tiny, and potentially deadly, passenger.
According to the CDC, effective handwashing consists of five simple steps:
Zachary Sikora, PsyD, a clinical psychologist at Northwestern Medicine Huntley Hospital in Huntley, Illinois, offered the following tips to avoid touching your face during the coronavirus outbreak.
“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,” he said.
“Keep your hands busy. If you’re at home watching TV, try folding laundry, sort through mail, or hold something in your hands,” Sikora explained, adding that even a tissue will do, as long as it reminds you to keep your hands away from your face.
Finally, if you know you habitually touch your face, Sikora said wearing gloves can be an effective physical reminder.
Your eyes, nose, and mouth are the easiest paths for a virus like SARS-CoV-2 to enter the body.All it takes is touching these areas with your hands after you’ve come in contact with the disease on a surface you touched.
No matter how frequently you wash your hands, it’s not often enough to prevent passing an infection into your system.The best preventive measure is to avoid touching your face as much as possible.