You Touch Your Face Up to 16 Times an Hour: How to Stop

Have you ever noticed how many times a day, or hour, you touch your face? Most likely, you haven’t. According to recent studies, however, on average, we all touch our faces about 16 times an hour.

If you’re skeptical about that number, think about why you touch your face on any given day. Is it to itch your nose or eyes, to remove something stuck between your teeth after lunch, to cover a sneeze, or perhaps a nervous habit you have when speaking before a group? There are numerous reasons for touching your face, and most of the time, it’s done subconsciously.

Why is this important? It’s important because the fastest way to transmit respiratory infections and other diseases and conditions is by touching your face.

Practicing good hygiene habits can help, such as

  • Washing hands for a good 20 seconds each time
  • Sanitizing hands and carrying hand sanitizer with you
  • Carrying tissues with you everywhere

However, your hands are only clean for so long. Here are tips to help you avoid touching your face so often.

Be aware and mindful

The first step to changing your bad habits is to become aware of the habits themselves. Awareness can have a profound impact on how you go about your daily life.

Realizing that germs can be anywhere, on any surface, you start to become aware of the surfaces you touch on a daily basis, such as door handles. This awareness will lead you to stop, or at the very least, modify how you touch these surfaces going forward.

At the same time, you become aware of how often you touch your face with hands that have touched those surfaces. This can lead to mindfulness in your actions going forward. You begin to pay more attention to your actions and can more easily stop yourself from touching your face.

Create written reminders and place them strategically wherever you spend time

Leave yourself written reminders in clear view of wherever you are. These can be on your computer, in your workspace, on a kitchen cabinet, or on the steering wheel of your car. Another way to remind yourself not to touch your face is to set reminders on your phone to go off every few minutes until you become aware of your habit.

Get yourself an accountability partner

Ask a co-worker, partner, spouse, or friend to notice when you touch your face and have them point it out.

Keep your hands busy

Keep your hands busy by holding a pen or tissue, sorting papers, or folding laundry. Another option is to hold a stress ball or use a hand exerciser. Try wrapping a rubber band around your hand and pulling on it with the other hand. This will keep your hands busy and also provide a reminder not to touch your face.

Place hands in your pockets or under a blanket or towel.

If standing or walking, try placing your hands in your pockets. If sitting, tuck your hands under a blanket or towel, or even your shirt.

Use a scented hand soap, lotion or sanitizer

Find hand soaps, lotions, and hand sanitizers that have a strong scent. Every time your hands come in close proximity to your face, you will smell this, and it will trigger a reminder.

Add a physical reminder

For more of a reminder, try using one of the following:
a mask over your mouth
glasses (sunglasses, reading glasses, goggles, protective eyewear)

Identify your face-touching triggers

Many times, something will trigger you to touch your face more often. For instance, you may have the nervous habit of biting your nails or constantly pulling your hair into and out of your face. Perhaps your lips dry out quickly, and you unconsciously rub them with your fingers. Once you identify what it is you are doing, and what is triggering it, you can work to correct those habits individually.

The bottom line is that it’s up to you to break the habit of touching your face so often. Develop good handwashing hygiene and avoid touching common surfaces. Always carry tissues with you to wipe your nose, rub over your itchy eyes, or wipe your mouth. Identify the best ways to alert yourself to when you are touching your face, whether that be a scented hand sanitizer, an accountability partner, or written reminders placed strategically throughout your home and workspaces. Finally, use the other tips provided in this article to keep your hands off your face. This is a new habit you’ll benefit from over and over again going forward.