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Coronavirus, why it is important not to touch your face and how to stop it

March 25, 2020
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Coronavirus, why it is important not to touch your face and how to stop it

Why do we often touch our faces with our hands and what can we do to stop doing it?

Touching your face is a gesture that we all make several times a day, often unconsciously. A study was performed on the topic, the scientists observed 26 volunteers through a camera. Well, each of them brought their hands to their faces at least 23 times in an hour and 44% came into contact with a mucous membrane, such as eyes, nose or mouth (Kwok et al, Am J Infect Control, 2015). Touching your face continuously with your hands is not as harmless as you might think, especially when your hands are dirty and may carry bacteria and viruses. This is why it is important to limit contact between hands and face and to follow the basic hygiene rules. This is valid in the normal everyday life, in which touching often the face may cause a worsening, for example of acne, or a transmission of a cold or flu, but it is especially valid in this so difficult period for the coronavirus emergency. In fact, your hands may have come into contact with the virus, for example by touching door handles, light switches, elevator buttons or handrails. In fact, a recent scientific study has shown that coronavirus can resist from a few hours to a few days outside the body. For example, on a plastic or steel surface it can survive from two to three days, a little less on cardboard and copper where it disappears in a few hours, at most in a day (van Doremalen et al, The New England Journal of medicine, 2020). So bringing your hands to your face can become a gesture that could cause infection. For this reason, it is necessary to follow the rules.

Use a handkerchief

Sometimes you just can't avoid to touch your face, it may be to adjust your glasses, if you have an itchiness or just to wipe your nose. In this case the general advice is always to use not bare hands but a handkerchief, which must then be thrown away.

Wash your hands often

Wash your hands several times a day for one minute with soap and water. First, wet the hands, then, distribute the soap over the entire surface and rub the palms together.

Then rub the palm of one hand against the back of the other, interlacing the fingers, for one hand and the other.

Then rub the palms together interlacing the fingers.

Then the back of the fingers is rubbed against the opposite palm holding the fingers tightly together, then the part between the thumb and the other fingers is rubbed and then the whole thumb. Finally, the fingers are rubbed against the palm of the other hand. Rinse your hands and dry them with a towel.

Alternatively, or in addition, you can use an alcohol-based hand disinfectant. This should be done often.

Fight involuntary movements

We often put our hands on our faces due to nervousness, perhaps while thinking about a problem or watching television. Indeed, it has been observed that touching your face can be a way to relieve stress. A good way to avoid this is to definitely keep your hands busy, for example with a soft ball to wring out. However, the ball should often be disinfected with water and alcohol. When you are out, for example while you are shopping at the grocery stores, wearing a scarf or a bandana covering your nose and mouth can be a deterrent to touching your face. Be careful though, in addition to this, scarves and shawls can only partially limit the dispersion of droplets when we speak, but they do not represent a total protection neither for us nor for others, for this you need to practice social distancing, wash your hands frequently and not touch your face with your hands.

If there is a physical discomfort at the base

Sometimes touching your eyes often can be a sign of tired, dry or sore eyes. In this case, more than touching your eyes often it can be useful to use artificial tears or to do eye exercises such as palming, which we talked about in previous posts, but always after washing your hands properly.

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