If you’ve been heeding the advice of health officials lately, you’ve probably been washing your hands a lot, keeping your distance from others and crafting a homemade face cover to wear if you need to go out.
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You’ve probably also become woefully aware of just how often you rub your eyes, itch your nose or bite your nails.
Health experts recommend that you avoid touching your face because it can potentially protect you from infection. While the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is believed to be spread mostly by inhaling droplets released when an infected individual coughs or sneezes, these droplets can also land on surfaces. If you touch an infected surface with your hand and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth — which are also entryways for viruses into your body — you could potentially become infected and get sick.
But not touching your face is easier said than done. Here’s some advice on breaking the habit.
Hand-face contact happens often throughout the day — most of the time without us even realizing it. One study of medical students found that participants touched their faces some 23 times an hour, and nearly half of those instances involved their eyes, nose or mouth.
“Most likely it’s an unconscious or even nervous behavior, like twirling your hair,” says behavioral health clinical therapist Karen Tucker, LISW-S, ACSW.
So the first step to keeping your hands away from your face is simply becoming aware of when and how you do it. You might try to:
Once you become aware of your face-touching habits, changing them can take time and patience.
Here are some hands-off strategies to try.