July 02, 2020 3 min read

Personal hygiene is staring you right in the face!

What is it about us humans constantly touching our faces? It seems the more you try to focus on notdoing it, the more you do it! But, did you know it’s quite literally a habit we are born with? In utero, fetuses have been observed touching their hands to their faces so often that it led scientists to undertake further study. The results showed that pregnant mothers who reported ‘feeling stressed’ resulted in their fetus touching its face. So, it seems that even before birth, stress causes us to touch our face. Scientists believe that this face touching helps us regulate our stress levels.

Compelling medical research has also shown that one of the primary contributing factors to the spread of harmful pathogens, such as COVID-19 and the common cold, was microbes entering the body via the eyes, nose and mouth.

However, it’s not just our hands that can spread disease. Researchers have found that infectious diseases like coronavirus and SARS, in ideal conditions, can live on non-porous surfaces such as glass, metal and plastic for up to nine days. Even on porous surfaces or fabrics the virus can remain for up to 72 hours. So essentially, even by placing your face on a surface, such as the face hole of a massage table or therapy bed, your primary disease entry points are vulnerable to the germs that are present on that surface.

Your mouth is clearly the easiest way to contract disease due to the size of the ‘opening’ and frequency of contact with hands, food and airborne particles. Hence why face masks have become such a great way to reduce community transmissions of not only COVID but also common colds and flu.

When a virus enters your body through the eyes it is carried via the mucous membranes that keep your eyes lubricated. Virus particles can also enter the nose and can thrive in the nasal passages. In fact, when COVID enters the body it sets itself up in the back of the nasal passage and uses the mucus membranes to travel from the sinuses, down the back of the throat and into the lungs.

So, how can we protect our eyes, nose and mouth?

Sharing towels, makeup and makeup brushes, face masks or anything else that comes in contact with your face, should be avoided in the same way as you should avoid touching your face with your hands.

Using hand sanitiser is a great way to ensure your hands are clean after being in contact with surfaces. However, it's important to break the habit of constantly touching your face instead of replacing it with the habit of applying hand sanitiser.

If face touching is such an automatic human trait, is it even possible to retrain our brains out of this germ-riddled habit?

It’s definitely a tough habit to break but it’s not a completely impossible task. Identify things that trigger you to touch your face, such as sore eyes, itchy skin, tiredness, allergies, etc. Try to prepare for these triggers by using eye drops for dry eyes, allergy medications for skin irritations and sinus trouble, or taking regular breaks from your computer screen instead of rubbing your eyes. Here are a few other suggestions that might help.

  1. Wear a face mask:you literally cannot touch your mouth or nose while wearing one.
  2. Use tissues when touching:if you need to touch or scratch your face wrap a clean tissue around your fingers.
  3. Wear makeup: A study in Japan showed that women touch their face less when they are wearing makeup.
  4. Get some glasses: Don’t wear make-up? Hate face masks? Then why not try wearing specs? Even if you can see without them, wearing non-prescription glasses will prevent eye touching and make a bold fashion statement too!
  5. Hands in gloves: while gloves still can harbour germs, you are less likely to touch your face while wearing them. They act as a not-so-subtle reminder to keep your hands off!
  6. Sanity through sanitising: If you simply must touch your face ensure that you either wash your hands thoroughly with soap and running water or use a hand sanitiser that contains at least 70% alcohol.

Finally, don’t forget that when receiving any face-down treatments such as massages or physiotherapy, ensure that your practitioner changes all bed linens, towels and pillowcases, and thoroughly disinfects all hard surfaces between clients.

Before you book your next face-down treatment, look for a Purifas Faceshield clinic in your area.

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