Two Simple Hacks to Stop Touching Your Face

With the outbreak of Covid-19, health care professionals are recommending that people refrain from touching their face. But guess what?

It’s easier said than done.

“Even health experts have trouble not touching their faces!” the Santa Clara County, California Public Health Department posted to Facebook.

That followed an article by the Washington Post pointing out that Sara Cody, the county’s public health director, had licked her finger moments after urging the public not to touch their face.

simple tips to limit the spread of coronavirus COVID19 Connie Steed told USA TODAY on Friday
Dr. Sara Cody, director of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, failed to heed her own advice when she licked her finger at a press conference

“It’s just subconscious behavior”
Connie Steed, Infection Prevention Expert  told USA TODAY.

From picking up objects to turning doorknobs, we’re constantly touching surfaces contaminated with pathogens. These pathogens can be picked up by our hands and get into the body through mucous membranes on the face — eyes, nose, and mouth — that act as pathways to the throat and lungs.

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is believed to be spread mostly by inhaling droplets released when infected individual coughs or sneezes. But these droplets can also land on surfaces that we touch with our hands.

Some pathogens can last for about nine days on surfaces, so we are constantly coming in contact with potential pathogens that can cause an infection,” said Jennifer Hanrahan, chief of the division of infectious diseases at the University of Toledo Medical Center.

All of which explains why it makes sense for health officials to recommend that people wash their hands frequently and try to avoid touching their faces. But as anyone who has consciously tried to do so knows, it’s hard.

Two Hacks to Attempt

One recommendation is to set a reminder app on your phone to keep the thought top of mind. Ike To Do List is a reminder app for Android that uses President Eisenhower’s Priority Matrix. You put in a bunch of tasks and assign them an importance value. Apple includes its own Reminders app on all devices but if you want something more powerful try an app like Due.  It lets you add reminders for anything and give it a due date and time. Once the reminder comes, you can “snooze” it for 10 minutes, an hour, or push it back to the next day if need be.

The second hack may be easier to execute. It is to say “I’m going to be more aware of how much I touch my face today” and stroke-count each time you catch yourself. The downside is generally making a hard statement of “I will not touch my face today” doesn’t work because we’re so programmed to do it.

So what about you? As we all work around the globe to limit the spread of coronavirus and COVID-19 what are some hacks you’re using?