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As per the BBC, humans are under the unusual habit of touching their own faces- a characteristic which we do not share with most other animals in the animal kingdom. This simple act, quite unconsciously, ends up making us vulnerable to certain diseases and germs when the world has to face their outbreak.

For instance, while we face the outbreak of the frightful COVID-19 virus, most experts around us have advised that we avoid touching our face as much as possible, to stop the spread of this disease. However, most of us find it very difficult to not touch our faces, especially once this action has been brought to our notice. If we were to count the number of times, we touched our faces in the 16 hours of our wakefulness, it would amount to hundreds and thousands of times.

In this article, we have discussed why you should not touch your face during this COVID-19 pandemic,and have also suggested various ways to stop doing the same. But before we delve into this question, let us get an overview of the matter at hand.

How Often Do Humans Touch Their Face?

In the animal kingdom, Homo sapiens happens to be one of the rare species that are often seen touching their faces. The act is done almost unconsciously and more often than we would care to admit. Studies show that we are more likely to touch our chins and the area close to our nose, mouth, and eyes. When it comes to viruses like SARS-CoV2, this habit might prove to be suicidal.

An observational study was carried out in 2015, which studied and analyzed the behavior of students in Australia. It was observed by Mary-Louse McLaws (an infection control expert) from the University of North-South Wales, Sydney, that students tended to touch their faces very often- as much as 23 times in an hour. These students were then studying medicine, which means they should have been particularly aware of the risks involved in touching their faces. However, it was not so.

This behavior is unhealthy, in all manners imaginable, and makes us vulnerable to a number of diseases, including the Coronavirus. Our hands pick up viruses and bacteria from the environment, which can later enter our system and cause us to fall sick.

Why Do Humans Touch Their Faces?

Most species like to touch their faces as a means of grooming, self-decoration, or to clean their skin of pests and germs. However, humans, along with some similar primates, do this for all sorts of reasons- psychological and physical.

Martin Grunwald, who is a psychologist at the University of Leipzig in Germany, has noted that self-touching is a behavior that is very fundamental to our species.  It is assumed that self touches are ways to regulate the mind without any purpose or intention to express or communicate.

Touching your face might be an act of self-soothing, as per Dacher Keltner (a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley). Skin to skin contact is also known to help in the release of the hormone- oxytocin, which is needed by the body to feel calm and reduce stress. We also touch our faces as a signal indicating that we have finished speaking or feeling a certain thing, like the closing of an act in a play. 

Some experts are also of the opinion that self-touching could be a way to help us control our emotions and improve our span of attention.

How to Stop Touching Your Face

Here are some ways in which you can ensure that you and your loved ones do not end up touching their faces constantly-

  • Remind Each Other Whenever Possible

This simple tactic can go a long way in preventing people from touching their faces. Once you point out the mistakes and errors that a person makes constantly, they tend to get conscious about it and are bound to stop it sooner or later. It has been noticed that there has been a significant decrease in the number of times a person touches their face when they are corrected or reminded of it several times.

  • Keep a Count of The Number of Times You Touch Your Face

This is applicable to people who are self-conscious and want to get rid of their bad habits on their own. Instead of having someone point you out every time you touch your face, you yourself could keep a count of the number of times your hands reach up to your face. You might want to use a counter or a paper and pen to track down the number of times you touch your face. This simple act of self logging has brought down the number of times a person touches their face by 60-70%.

  • Choose an Alternative

You do not touch your face without reason. Man is a psychologically complex creature with a number of triggers that cause him to reach his face. Next time you have an urge to reach up to your eyes, mouth, or nose, consider doing something else instead- for instance, scratching your arm or rubbing your hands.

  • Keep Your Hands Occupied

It’s not the easiest thing in the world to beat your subconscious urge and let go of a long-formed habit. If you’re one of those people who cannot keep their hands from fidgeting around your face, you should consider keeping them occupied with some activity like squeezing a stress ball, sketching, or playing a game.

If all of this seems like too much to handle, just ensure that you keep your hands clean.

Why Should You Not Be Touching Your Face?

It was found in a study on hand hygiene that the global spread of diseases and pandemics could be lessened by 69% if people took care to wash their hands at airports.  People often touch their faces thinking it is of hardly any consequence.

This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Touching your face makes you susceptible to respiratory diseases which are caused by different bacteria, viruses, and other harmful germs. If you touch your face with greasy or dirty hands, germs might find a way into your mucus membrane and later cause infection.

The main key to avoiding this disease from spreading further is maintaining cleanliness hygiene, which is as strict as possible. If you want yourself and your loved ones to remain safe while the world battles this pandemic, we suggest you take the steps mentioned above.


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