(AscendHealthy.com) – How often do you touch your face? You probably do it a lot more than you realize. According to one study, most of us touch our faces an average of 23 times per hour. That’s about once every 2 to 3 minutes. And as benign as it may seem most of the time, this unhealthy habit can cause a lot of issues.
The Problem With Touching Your Face
We live in a world that’s flooded with microorganisms, and while many are harmless or even beneficial, several of them can cause serious health issues. The hands themselves are host to numerous microbes, many of which call the skin their natural home, but they can also pick up unwanted hitchhikers. Some of the more dangerous ones, like Staphylococcus aureus, can cause infections.
Face touching can transfer bacteria to the skin, which might exacerbate acne. You may also introduce viral infections this way. For example, the virus that causes common warts spreads via physical contact, especially if you’ve scratched or picked at an infected area before moving to scratch your face.
During cold and flu season, and especially during times of a pandemic, you might contract a viral infection by touching your face with contaminated fingers. Contact with your eyes, mouth or nose may give a virus the open window it needs to invade your body. And when most people touch their face, about 44% wind up touching at least one of those areas.
Tips to Reduce Contact
Face touching is an emotional response, one that can provide us with a strange sense of comfort even when we’re unaware we’re doing it. This means breaking the habit can take some conscious effort. Here are a few steps you can take to reduce your hand-to-face contact:
- Self-monitor. Research has shown the act of taking count whenever you catch yourself touching your face can help you reduce how often you do it. Keep whatever device you’re using to keep count handy for a good, steady reminder.
- Wear a mask. According to Cleveland Clinic, you might reduce the amount of contact you make with your nose and mouth if you keep both covered. Just make sure your mask fits well, so you don’t feel compelled to readjust it every few minutes.
- Occupy your hands. If your hands are busy, they’re less likely to find their way to your face. Try a pen, stress ball or other readily available items.
- Change your posture. Do you sit a certain way at work that lends to your leaning a hand against your face or chewing on your fingernails? Adjust your posture. Cross your legs the other way. Do something to pull yourself away from that face-touching autopilot.
- Change your routine. Does your hair constantly get in your face, prompting you to brush it away? Pull it back. Do contact lenses make your eyes itchy? Cut the temptation to scratch and rub them by wearing glasses instead, recommends Good Housekeeping. Take note of the issues that reinforce face-touching behaviors so you can find habit-changing alternatives.
Most of us aren’t aware of how often we touch our faces, but that can change today. Reduce your chances of contracting unnecessary infections by taking steps to become more mindful of what your hands are doing. It might take some time, but you can put an end to this germ-spreading habit.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension
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