The problem with face touching and a potential outbreak is the eyes, nose and mouth are all mucous membranes and can act as entry portals for germs and microbes.
According to one study, published in theJournal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, people touch their faces around 16 to 23 times an hour.
While face touching isn’t a problem per se, it is likely your hands will have been in contact with a variety of potentially unhygienic surfaces first.
Health researcher Dr Nancy C. Elder said while people understand the importance of handwashing, it is time to enforce a similarly strong message regarding face touching.
“Scratching the nose, rubbing your eyes, leaning on your chin and your fingers go next to your mouth – there’s multiple ways we do it,” said Dr Elder, reports The New York Times.
“Everybody touches their face, and it’s a difficult habit to break.”
Australian health experts have said they encourage people to abstain from touching their faces and if they do so to make sure they have used hand-sanitiser first.
“The public health message is this: try very hard to keep your hands away from your nose, mouth and eyes,” said Professor Mary-Louise McLaws, an infection control expert from the University of NSW, reports The Sydney Morning Herald .
“If you need to touch them, carry some alcohol-based hand rub and decontaminate them.”