WORDS HANNAH MAY-LEE WONG
The coronavirus outbreak had public health officials constantly reminding us not to touch our faces. But the warnings highlighted an unexpected issue—many of us can’t stop, even we wanted to.
How often do we do it? A study conducted by an Australian University on hand hygiene found that out of the 26 medical students that were observed, each of them touched their faces an average of 23 times per hour.1
WHY CAN’T WE STOP?
Apart from face-touching being a habit we’ve had almost all our lives; studies have suggested that we are more likely to touch our faces during stressful situations.2
WHAT CAN WE DO?
- Keep tissues handy
If you have an itch on your face, need to rub your nose or adjust your glasses, use a tissue to do these things instead of your fingers.
- Be conscious of triggers
Breaking the habit may be easier once you’ve identified the triggers. When you’re aware of what urges you to touch your face, you can address the root cause or make the conscious effort to avoid touching your face. You can also leave reminder notes not to touch your face around the house, or on your phone screensaver until you’ve broken the habit.
- Keep your hands busy
If you’re particularly prone to touching your face when you’re bored or in a stressful situation, keep your hands occupied by using a stress-ball. Don’t forget to sanitise your stress-ball regularly.
- Use scented lotion
Psychologists suggest that using a scented product on your hands can serve as an effective reminder for you not to touch your face. When you bring your hands close to you face, the smell could make you aware, and stop yourself just in time.3 HT
- Kwok Y.L., Gralton J., McLaws M.L. (2015).Face touching: a frequent habit that has implications for hand hygiene. Am J Infect Control.;43(2):112-4
- CNN. One big coronavirus challenge is how to stop touching your face. Retrieved from https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/08/health/coronavirus-touching-your-face-trnd/index.html
- NY Times. How to Stop Touching Your Face. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/05/health/stop-touching-your-face-coronavirus.html