Man rubbing his eyes and holding glasses

To reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), experts recommend that you not touch your face because the virus is transmitted through mucous membranes in the mouth, nose and eyes.

This is in addition to other virus prevention steps such as washing your hands frequently, practicing social distancing and using a homemade face mask.

Yet, these three recommendations are much easier to do than to keep your hand away from your face.

Why You Touch Your Face

Touching your face is a habit that most of us have. We brush the hair from our eyes, scratch our noses, rest our chins in our hands multiple times throughout the day, not to mention taking glasses on and off, rubbing our foreheads and most recently, putting on and taking off our face masks.

Pay attention to how many times you touch your face in just an hour. According to a recent research study, participants touched their faces an average of 23 times per hour. Of those touches, 44 percent came in contact with mucous membranes.

How the Virus Is Transmitted

Experts believe that the coronavirus is most commonly spread by droplets that are sneezed or coughed out and are then inhaled by someone else.

Those droplets can land on surfaces, and when you touch that surface and then touch your mouth, nose or eyes, the virus can enter your body.

That is part of the reason it is so important to wash your hands. But in between washes, you are still at risk for getting the virus.

How to Stop Touching Your Face

Fortunately, the same study also found that by making the participants aware of how often they touched their faces and teaching them how it has the potential to spread illness, they were less likely to touch their faces.

We also came up with some ways that may help you touch your face less often:

    Be aware.

    Pay attention to how often you touch your face. This can include watching other people. Noticing how often they do it can bring awareness to you.

    Change the way you sit.

    Avoid putting your elbows on the tabletop because this often leads to resting your chin in your hands. You can even try sitting on your hands or folding them in your lap to keep them away from your face.

    Keep your hands busy.

    Try using a fidget spinner, knitting or crochet, rubber band or stress ball to keep your hands occupied.

    Tie or pin back hair.

    If your hair is causing you to touch your face, fix it in a new way so you don’t have to keep pushing it out of your eyes.

    Make sure your glasses fit properly.

    They should not slide down your face. If you need to push them up or take them off, handle them from sides, not the bridge or other parts that touch your face.

    Use a tissue.

    If you have an itch or have to touch your face for any reason, hold a clean tissue in your hand as you do it.

    Prevent itchiness.

    Use moisturizer to prevent dry, itchy skin. Use eye drops if your eyes are dry and itchy. (Make sure to wash your hands before and after using the eye drops.) Treat seasonal allergies to prevent itchy noses.

    Wear a scent.

    Apply a light perfume or lotion on your hands or wrists that you can smell every time you bring your hands to your face.

    Imagine your hands are dirty.

    You can't see the germs on your hand, so pretend that your hands are covered in something visible, like paint or mud. This is more useful in short-term situations like when shopping at the grocery store.

    Wear a mask.

    A face mask can act as a reminder to not touch your face. However, it's important to note that, if wearing a mask makes you fidget or you find yourself constantly adjusting it, this is not a good technique for you. You are still required to wear a face mask when going into certain public places, such as retail establishments and riding on public transportation.

Even if you are excellent at not touching your face, you still need to wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer frequently, especially if you go out in public. Since touching your face is a habit, there will still be times you fall back into old ways. Do your best, but keep washing those hands!