By Anouk Jones, G11. Surprise! Your hands are not your friends…

One of the many quirks of human nature: our touch. You may not have realised it before, but the countless times that you touch your eyes, nose, and mouth do in fact affect your body – in ways you may never have thought about before. Specifically relevant to the current global climate, the picking up of infections such as coronavirus is fast-tracked by unawareness to one’s own face touching. Plus an added bonus, clear skin!

“Scratching the nose, rubbing your eyes, leaning on your chin and your fingers go next to your mouth — there’s multiple ways we do it. Everybody touches their face, and it’s a difficult habit to break.”

Dr Nancy C. Elder, a professor of family medicine at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland who has studied face touching among doctors and clinic staff members.

Why do I touch my face in the first place?

Don’t worry, you aren’t alone in this! The natural action of touching your face actually stems from in the womb, that’s right, when you were a fetus you were touching your face as well! As many are aware, stress is a major part that fuels the urge to reach up and touch your face, whether that be as a calming method, or just an involuntary reaction to the pressure that you feel building up on yourself, whether that be academic, social, or internal. 

What does this have to do with the spread of COVID19?

Many officials have named the reduction of face touching as a key recommendation of slowing the virus… If only we could stop! Hard surfaces such as doorknobs, railings, and subway poles are petri dishes for the coronavirus, lasting on surfaces for x number of days. This gives our fingers plenty of opportunities to pick it up and put it directly onto our face’s mucous membranes – our eyes, noses, and mouths, which are capable of funneling the virus straight into our bodies. On top of this, all kinds of other diseases (colds, the flu) end up infecting us this way. 

But is this actually serious?

The short answer to this question is yes – there have been many studies done to determine the effect to which face touching actually affects us, as listed below:

  • In a study conducted at a hospital, it was found that the sampled medical students touched face around 23 x 1hr, or every 2.5 mins. When taking into account the fact that out of anyone, medical professionals should be conscious of this due to the effects on personal health, imagine how many more times the average person could be touching their face!
  • The element of stress and how it plays into the amount of times that we touch our face has also been investigated, and it was found that the anxiety of taking a memory test was associated with touching the nose, cheeks, and chin.
  • On top of this, spontaneous facial self-touch is seen in animals too (in reality this is NOT CUTE)

How do I break this habit?!

Don’t panic, luckily by combining the solutions below with a bit of self control, your days of touching your face could be over!

  •  use tissue to scratch nose/rub eyes
  • use moisturisers/eye drops to eliminate triggers
  • wipe down surfaces
  • wash your hands

Just in case you need some final motivation, 

“I haven’t touched my face in weeks,” said Donald Trump, at a meeting with airline CEOs about the coronavirus crisis on Wednesday. “I miss it.”

If Donald Trump can do it, so can you!

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