Experts Are Warning You Not To Touch Your Face — But Honestly It’s So Damn Hard!

Note to self: Must not touch face


Chandré Davids |

If you’ve been keeping up-to-date with all the tips on how to protect yourself against the coronavirus, then you’ve probably heard that you need to stop touching your face. But like how does one actually do that?

Understanding how viruses spread

Let say someone with a virus uses the bathroom. They touch the door handles, the toilet seat, the tap, they might even sneeze or cough. Now, long after that person leaves, microscopic droplets of the virus stays behind. Then you come long, touch those same surfaces and then scratch your eyes or nose. The virus that was on your hands, can now make its way through the mucous membranes (eyes, nose and mouth) and into the body.

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The risks of hand-to-face contact

The risk of catching a virus via hand-to-face contact depends on factors like the type of virus, the surface, the temperature and how long you are exposed. The flu, for example, can only survive for up to 48 hours in ideal conditions. The World Health Organisation notes that while we don’t know much about the coronavirus — we do know that it behaves similarly to other streams of coronaviruses. This is bad news as other coronaviruses can survive in ideal conditions for up to nine days — far longer than the flu.

How often do we touch our face?

Since scientists are still researching the numerous ways the coronavirus spreads and how we can prevent it, it does appear that the general consensus is that in order to lower the spread, we need to wash our hands, try not to touch our face and practice social distancing. But honestly, the not touching your face part is easier said than done — and science agrees. According to one study of “hand-to-face contact rates”, subjects touched their faces about fifteen times per hour. While an Australian study found it to be 23 times an hour. We did our own little experiment here at WH HQ, and to be honest, it was basically impossible for us not to touch our face within a 30 minute period. So rest assured that touching your face is something that we all do, whether we realise it or not.

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But seriously, how can I stop?

If studies are anything to go by, it’s damn hard to keep your hands away from your face. But you can work at minimising the number of times.

Use a tissue

If your nose is itching, rather than using your bare hands, use a tissue to act as a buffer.

Wear makeup

This may sound silly but wearing mascara will help you not to scratch your eyes as you’ll be more mindful about smudging it.

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Make sure your hands are clean

If you’re going to be touching your face, you want to make sure that your hands are at least clean. The Center for Disease Control and Preventions advises that you wash your hands often, especially after touching surfaces, coughing, sneezing and being in public. So be sure that you’re practising good hygiene like wiping down surfaces and using a hand sanitiser that is alcohol-based.

READ MORE ON: Coronavirus Health Health Advice

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