Coronavirus prevention tips: How to stop touching your face

Don’t touch your face!

As the novel coronavirus continues to spread in the U.S., with cases surpassing 1,000 as of Tuesday evening, doctors and health care professionals are reminding everyone to keep their hands away from their faces. More specifically, avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth could be a key to staying healthy, as “touching the mucous membranes on your face with your dirty hands allows germs that cause respiratory infections to enter the body,” says the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).

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But keeping your hands off your face is easier said than done: One study found that people touch their face some 23 times an hour on average. And last week, one California health official briefing on coronavirus told Santa Clara County residents to avoid touching their faces to prevent contracting the novel coronavirus — but licked her finger moments later to turn the page in her notes. The moment quickly went viral. 

“Make it a habit to stop touching your face. Although it is not a substitute for good hand hygiene, it can help protect you against coronavirus and other respiratory infections. Most people find it very challenging to stop touching their faces,” Dr. William Schaffner, the medical director for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), told Fox News.

While it may seem impossible, Schaffner offered a few tips to help, which you can read below.

Use alarms and sticky notes

Do you use reminders to help complete tasks on your to-do list? Try the same concept to remind yourself to not touch your face, said Schaffner.

“Try using reminders, such as an alarm on your cell phone or sticky notes on your desk or refrigerator,” he said.

Tie a ribbon to your finger 

In addition to alarms and sticky notes, Schaffner also suggested putting a ribbon or piece of tape on your finger as a way to stop yourself.

“Put a ribbon or tape on your finger to make yourself more aware when you do touch your face," he said.

Scented lotion could also be of use, as the smell “could make you more aware of your actions,” Zach Sikora, a clinical psychologist at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, told the New York Times.

Keep your hands busy 

“Try sitting on your hands or folding them in your lap when you are in a meeting or watching TV,” he suggested.

Using a stress ball or a fidget toy could keep your hands busy and ultimately off your face — but don’t forget to clean the object frequently, experts also suggested to the outlet.

Don’t forget to wash your hands 

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“Most importantly, wash your hands frequently and thoroughly,” Schaffner reminded. “Cough or sneeze into your sleeve or elbow — or better yet, into a tissue that you throw away. Stay home when you are sick, and avoid others who are sick to minimize the chance of spreading germs.”

But are you washing your hands properly? Read here for a look at the proper hand-washing protocol and other ways to protect yourself from there virus here.