Amid the self-isolation and quarantines that have come with the Covid-19 pandemic, caused by the novel coronavirus (known as SARS-CoV-2) discovered in 2019, there has been a non-stop stream of news on the subject. While you can’t believe everything you hear on TV or read online, a variety of sources say that to minimize the spread of this highly-contagious disease you will need to stop touching your face.
For most humans this seems a near impossible feat. Humans, and many other primates, are naturally inclined to touch our faces. This impulse can increase dramatically when we are anxious, which many people are right now given the uncertainty of the economy and the global health crisis.
Two recent studies found that people touch their faces many times per hour- one found people doing it 16 times per hour on average, another found 23 times per hour! Experts in the field of medicine have counseled for us to stop touching our faces, but how does one accomplish this? Here are some tips on how to make this unconscious habit a conscious one that can be controlled.
It may not prevent exposure to all sources of the virus to wear gloves. However, the feeling of a glove on your face can become a sensory clue that can remind you stop doing it.
If you have a habit of touching your eyes, nose, or other parts of your face, the feeling of band aid on your skin can also act as reminder to leave your face alone.
Wear a Rubber Band or New Piece of Jewelry
A new ring or a rubber band looped around your finger can also help to remind you to stop before you absent-mindedly play with your face or rub your eyes. You can also use the old fashioned method of trying a string around your finger as this can also be a powerful clue to stop once you feel it on the skin of your face.
Wash Your Hands
If you have to touch your face, make sure to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap before you do, paying special attention to thumbs, fingernails, and palms. The bonds of the novel coronavirus are held together by lipids and proteins and soap destroys these bonds, as well as removes the particles from your skin.
Even if you are staying home and following self isolation guidelines, you can still potentially touch a contaminated surface such as the doorknobs to your home and your mailbox, among other things. This is why washing your hands often and well is so important.
Likewise, proper hand washing also destroys common cold and flu viruses which most of us also hope to avoid. And, for what it’s worth not touching your face is a very good habit to get into in order to avoid the spread of many diseases, not just Covid-19.