How to stop touching your face


By: New York Times |

Published: March 6, 2020 10:50:37 am


coronavirus, touching face As long as your hands are clean, touching your face isn’t catastrophic. (Source: Getty Images)

Now that we know that it’s bad to touch our faces, how do we break a habit that most of us didn’t know we had?

Throughout the day, we touch a lot of surfaces — doorknobs, elevator buttons, subway poles — where viruses, including the new coronavirus, can linger for days. From there, microbes can piggyback on our fingertips to our noses, mouths or eyes, all of which are entry portals for the coronavirus, as well as other viruses and germs.

It took the coronavirus outbreak to make many of us aware of just how often we reach for our faces.

“It’s a very difficult habit to break because we all do it, and oftentimes we’re not even aware we’re doing it,” said Dr. Vanessa Raabe, assistant professor in the department of medicine at NYU Langone Health.

Here are four tricks to help you stop.

Keep a box of tissues handy.

When you feel the urge to scratch an itch, rub your nose or adjust your glasses, grab a tissue and use that instead of your fingers.

If you feel you have to sneeze, but don’t have a tissue handy, aim your sneeze into your elbow rather than your hand, health experts say. Sneezing into your hand makes it more likely that you will pass your germs on to other people or objects around you.

Read| Itchy all over? Remember when not to scratch

Identify triggers.

Raabe of NYU Langone Health offered this suggestion: “Be cognizant of triggers.”

Pause throughout the day to notice compulsive behavior. Once you’re more aware of when and why you’re touching your face, addressing the root cause can be an effective solution. If you find yourself rubbing your eyes because they are dry, use moisturizing drops. If you are using your hand as a chin rest or to adjust your hair, be aware of that, Raabe said.

Dr. Justin Ko, a clinical associate professor of dermatology at Stanford Health, said he tells patients who wear contact lenses to consider wearing glasses instead to discourage them from rubbing their eyes. “Similarly,” he said, “while masks are not very effective for preventing virus transmission, they can be quite helpful for providing a physical barrier against touching the nose or mouth.”

Putting Post-it notes around the house, or on your desktop, could also serve as helpful reminders.

Read| Coronavirus scare: PM Modi to skip Holi event; here are some precautions you can also take

Keep your hands busy.

Keeping your hands occupied with a stress ball or other object can reduce instances of touching your face and minimize triggers, doctors said. Of course, don’t forget to regularly clean and sanitize that object. If you don’t have a stress ball to squeeze, mail to sort or laundry to fold, you could lace your hands together in your lap or find another way to actively engage them so you are not bringing them to your face as much.

Using scented soap or lotion could also help, said Zach Sikora, a clinical psychologist at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago. When you bring your hands close to your face, that smell could make you more aware of your actions.

We know it’s hard. President Donald Trump has struggled with it, too. “I haven’t touched my face in weeks! Been weeks,” Trump said Wednesday at a meeting of airline chief executives. “I miss it.”

Chill.

“My general advice would be that people should try to reduce their stress overall, as opposed to obsessively worrying about what they touch,” said Stew Shankman, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University. “Stress impacts your immune system, and the more you’re stressed, the more you’re reducing your body’s ability to fight off infections.”

He said he worried about the effects of using ritualistic behaviors, like snapping a rubber band on your wrist each time you touch your face. It is more effective, he said, to try to be in the present moment, practicing meditation and mindfulness exercises and focusing on your breathing.

As long as your hands are clean, touching your face isn’t catastrophic. “It’s a natural behavior we all do,” Shankman said. “It’s not the end of the world.”

📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines

For all the latest Lifestyle News, download Indian Express App.

13 thoughts on “How to stop touching your face

  1. This is really interesting, You are a very skilled blogger.
    I’ve joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your fantastic post.

    Also, I have shared your web site in my social networks!

  2. Hello There. I discovered your weblog using msn. That is a really smartly written article.
    I will be sure to bookmark it and return to read extra
    of your useful info. Thank you for the post. I’ll definitely comeback.
    adreamoftrains website hosting companies

  3. Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article.
    I’ll be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your
    useful information. Thanks for the post. I’ll definitely return.

  4. I was suggested this website by my cousin. I’m not certain whether or not this put up is written by way of him as nobody else recognise such certain about my problem.
    You’re amazing! Thank you!

  5. Spot on with this write-up, I really believe this site needs far
    more attention. I’ll probably be back again to see more, thanks for the information! cheap
    flights 3gqLYTc

  6. Hello there! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give
    a quick shout out and tell you I really enjoy reading through your posts.
    Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that deal with the same topics?
    Thanks for your time!

  7. This design is spectacular! You obviously know
    how to keep a reader entertained. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to
    start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Excellent job.
    I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that,
    how you presented it. Too cool!

  8. Hi there excellent blog! Does running a blog such as this require a
    great deal of work? I have very little knowledge of computer programming however
    I was hoping to start my own blog in the near future.
    Anyhow, if you have any suggestions or tips for new blog owners please share.
    I understand this is off subject nevertheless I simply needed to ask.
    Kudos! 34pIoq5 cheap flights

  9. An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a
    coworker who was doing a little research on this. And
    he actually bought me breakfast due to the fact that I stumbled upon it for him…
    lol. So let me reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!!
    But yeah, thanx for spending time to talk about this subject here on your site.

  10. hey there and thank you for your information – I’ve definitely picked up something new from
    right here. I did however expertise some technical points using
    this website, since I experienced to reload the site lots of times previous to I could get
    it to load properly. I had been wondering if your web hosting is OK?
    Not that I am complaining, but sluggish loading instances times will often affect your placement in google and can damage your high quality score if ads and marketing with Adwords.
    Well I’m adding this RSS to my e-mail and can look out for a lot more of your respective intriguing content.
    Ensure that you update this again soon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.