Germ Alert – Stop Touching the Face!
Remember when your mom would tell you to “wash up” before dinner? She was definitely onto something, moms usually know best. Well it’s that time of year, the dreaded cold and flu season. However, mom’s advice could actually go a long way in keeping you upright and healthy not just during cold and flu season, but throughout the entire year as well. Coughs and colds are really common this time of year as we head indoors and spend more time in close quarters, and in closer contact to others who may be sick. Most colds are caused by viruses which come in thousands of varieties and are spread mostly by – yes you guessed it – touching your face!!
If you have a tendency to touch your face a lot, listen up: stop it! Sorry for the harsh reminder, but keeping germs away from your face greatly increases your odds of not getting sick. Think about what you touch over the course of a day and who else touches those same items: keyboards, cell phones, doorknobs and pens (not to mention handshakes and fist bumps!), just to name a few things. Remember, germs like viruses can easily pass from surface to person in the blink of an eye. And once those germs touch your face, ugh!
Here are a few simple tips that can lead to a healthy, happier you:
– Carry alcohol-based hand sanitizer and use it often as the alcohol does help the kill most viruses
-When washing your hands, do so for about 20 seconds in warm water (singing Happy Birthday to yourself is a nice stopwatch)
-Keep your hands away from your nose. If you much touch, then using a fresh tissue every time is a better plan. The days of the handkerchief are long gone and help to get and keep you sick, especially if you choose to re-use-ikk!
-Put your hands in your pockets when walking from place to place. Also, sit regularly on your hands or put them in your lap. It may sound silly but it will curb the urge for facial touching for sure.
-Do not rest your head in your hands
-Keep your hands busy. Do crossword puzzles, play video games, even give yourself a hand massage. It helps, trust me.
-Keep you phone, mouse and computer clean by swabbing them down often – using that same hand sanitizer on a tissue works like a charm!
Again, try to remember the basics…infections are spread by droplets that come from coughing or sneezing or by touch….and are putting our hands near our faces is like asking for one to find you. That’s a recipe for spending a few days in bed and this time of year its way too busy for that!
Also remember to drink lots of fluids to help your system fight an infection if you get one, and to stay active. Keeping your blood pumping with regular exercise will help keep you well and help you recover faster. And if you’re using any type of shared gym equipment or exercise aids then wash, wash, wash! And by all means DONT touch your face!
Here’s to Healthy, Happy and Safe Holidays and a wonderful 2014!!
Elizabeth Salada, MD
Internal Medicine and Wellness