How many times have you touched your face today?
Chances are the answer would surprise you, as would the fact that this seemingly insignificant habit drastically increases your chances of contracting a respiratory illness. Using a hand as a headrest, scratching an itchy nose and rubbing tired eyes are behaviors many don’t give a second thought. Though, if you’re worried about spreading the cold, flu or other respiratory illnesses, you should.
The eyes, nose and mouth are major gateways for a virus to enter the body. Without even realizing it, a person can make themselves sick by touching an infectious surface and subsequently touching their face, giving the virus an easy pathway into their system.
Habits are hard to break, and this one is no different. It might not be easy to keep from touching your face but doing so could help maintain your health.
According to an article published in the New York Times, the first step to stopping this habit is to be mindful of the behavior. Also, using a tissue to scratch your nose or rub your eyes, keeping dry skin moisturized and using eye drops for dry eyes to help curb face touching.
In addition to keeping your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth, here are other important steps you should take to prevent the spread of respiratory illness:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. You can sing “Happy Birthday” twice to make sure you’ve washed them long enough. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Afterwards, throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Regularly clean and disinfect touched objects and surfaces.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick or showing signs of illness.
Practicing good hygiene is key to prevention, as is keeping your hands off your face.
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