We all touch our faces multiple times an hour without even realizing we're doing it . . . scratching little itches, brushing hair out of our field of vision or crumbs off fromour lips or rubbing our eyes. That’s a problem when there’s an extremely infectious disease on the loose.
When we’re out in the world, at work or shopping or any public place, we touch all sorts of things scores of other people have touched before we got there. The microbes they left on the doorknob, light switch, handle, elevator button, shopping cart, card reader or whatever it was, are transferred to our hands, and from our hands to other parts of our bodies, particularly our faces.
Face-touching is a hard habit to break because we all do it so unconsciously, but we should try to minimize it as much as we can. The CDC says that In addition to frequent, thorough hand washing (click here for the proper technique) and social distancing, not touching our faces — in particular eyes, nose and mouth — is another important precaution we can take to avoid being infected with the coronavirus.
Here are some tips to help minimize that involuntary, face-touching reflex.
— Identify triggers. For example if you tend to rub your eyes because they’re dry, try using moisturizing eyedrops. If wearing contact lenses makes you more disposed to rubbing your eyes, consider switching to glasses.
— Keep a box of pop-up tissues within sight and easy reach. When you get the urge to rub your nose, scratch an itch or any other face-touching activity, use a tissue to do it.
— Apply strongly-scented lotion or essential oil such as lavender or eucalyptus to your hands. Your nose will tell you when your hands are getting close to your face.
— Keep your hands busy doing something else. If your work leaves one or both hands free for stretches of time, for example when you’re talking on the phone, get a stress ball, fidget-spinner or some other hand-held object to keep your hands occupied.
— Breathe. Anxiety and stress tend to make anyone antsy and restless. Meditation or focused breathing can help you still your body and mind.
— Keep washing your hands! If you forget and rub your nose or your eyes, if your hands are freshly washed, you’ll be fine. No need to obsess. Just be thoughtful and careful.