How to Stop Touching Your Face to Prevent Germs

Published April 3, 2020
Woman touching her face

Whether you've got a medical condition or are trying to stay healthy during something like the coronavirus pandemic, learning how to keep yourself from touching your face can be really valuable. Washing your hands frequently is the best tool you have to keep these germs at bay. It's still important to create a habit of not touching your face, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Common Ways to Keep Your Hands Off Your Face

There are many reasons people try to stop touching their faces often. You can try some of the most common techniques first to see if they work for you.

Monitor Your Face Touching

The simple act of keeping track of how many times you touch your face can drastically reduce the number of times you touch your face, says Dr. Steven C. Hayes on The studies Dr. Hayes helped with on this topic showed that constant reminders are one of the best ways to get people to stop touching their faces. Since you probably don't have anyone willing to stand by your side reminding you every second of the day, the next best thing is reminding yourself through the act of tracking your face touching.

Replace the Habit

Replacing the habit of touching your face with another quick action can also help you stop touching your face all the time. The trick is to find an equally satisfying and simple habit, like clapping your hands or scratching your arm every time you feel the urge to touch your face. Choose one replacement habit and use it consistently to form a new habit.

Treat and Prevent Facial Problems

If you've got dry skin, acne, dry eye, migraines, or any other condition that causes you to touch your face often, look for new ways to treat or prevent it. Be diligent in your self-care routine to keep these problems at bay. Check in with your doctor for options you might not be using already.

Wear a Medical Mask

Wearing a medical mask won't necessarily protect you from airborne germs, but it can help keep your hands off your face. Standard masks cover your nose, cheeks, mouth, and chin, so most of your face will be protected against your hands.

Man Wearing Pollution Mask

Sit on Your Hands

Sitting on your hands while you watch TV or listen to a lecture can help keep them off your face. There will be a lot of times when this isn't possible, but it's an easy technique for times when you don't need to use your hands.

Use Your Arm or Shoulder to Calm a Facial Itch

Just as you've learned to cough and sneeze into your elbow, you can learn to "scratch" a facial itch with your shoulder or upper arm.

Wear Gloves or Mittens

Wearing gloves won't protect you from transmitting germs to your face if you're still touching your face all the time with the gloves. The idea here is to wear gloves that are scratchy or irritating on the outside, so you don't want to touch them to your face. Wearing mittens can also help because it will be harder for you to use your fine motor skills to do things like wipe something out of your eye.

Wear Clothing With Pockets or Hoods

Whether you're working from home or heading out to the store, clothing with big pockets, like hooded sweatshirts with a pocket on the front, can be a good hiding place for your hands. You'll be less tempted to touch your face if your hands are cozy in a pocket. A shirt or coat with a hood can also act as a barrier between your hands and your face.

Creative Methods to Help Stop Face Touching

To stay safe from germs at work, school, home, or out in the community, you may need to try more creative tactics for keeping your own hands away from your face.

Use a Soap or Lotion Scent You Hate

While you'll probably still get a faint whiff of this smell when your hands are away from your face, you definitely won't want to bring your hands right up to your face.

Wear Fun Hair Accessories

Headbands, clips, barrettes, and hair accessories can serve a dual purpose as fidget toys to keep your hands busy. To play with them, you'll still reach toward your head, so the motion will feel satisfying.

Keep Fidget Toys Handy

Stress balls, fidget spinners, and other fidget toys can also help keep your hands busy. The key here is to make sure they are clean and sanitized regularly, so you're not just putting more germs on your hands.

Keep a Clean Tissue Handy

There will be times when you need to touch your face. For these instances, keep a clean tissue on hand at all times so you can put it between your fingers and your face. You'll still be able to scratch that itch, but your hands won't touch your face directly.

Use Bandages to Cover Problem Spots

Put a bandage over pimples, scratches, or dry skin during the time you most touch your face or any time you're at home. If you can't reach those tempting spots, you'll touch your face less.

Wear a Low, Wide Fabric Headband

Wide fabric headbands worn around the forehead can provide a barrier between your hands and all the parts of your face above your eyes.

Wear Glasses

If you wear contact lenses, you could stop and start wearing your glasses to keep your fingers out of your eyes. Even if you don't need glasses, you can wear costume glasses in the house to protect your eyes and light sunglasses when you go out in public.

woman wearing glasses

Use Ear Hooks for Glasses

If you are wearing glasses, use ear hooks to keep them firmly in place so you're not tempted to adjust them frequently.

Put Bandages on Your Fingertips

Flexible bandages in fun colors or patterns could help you stop touching your face. Put the bandages on your fingertips so your finger skin can't touch your face.

Keep Hair Off Your Face

If you've got long hair or a hairstyle where your hair hangs in your face, pull it back. Keeping your hair off your face with hair accessories can help stop you from touching your face when the hair irritates you.

Set Reminders on Your Phone

Another way to get constant reminders about not touching your face is to set a series of reminders on your calendar that's synced to your phone. Make sure you have the notification sound on.

Brush Your Teeth Every Time You Eat

If you're prone to getting stuff stuck in your teeth or picking at your mouth after snacks and meals, brush your teeth every time you eat.

Why You Should Try to Stop Touching Your Face

The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) shares that people touch their own faces around 23 times per hour. Whether you're scratching an itch or picking at a trouble spot, touching your face gives germs an easy ride to your insides. When you touch your eyes, nose, mouth, or facial skin with contaminated hands, it makes it easier for viruses and bacteria to enter your mucous membranes and infect your body.

Free Your Face

Your face is a hotbed of activity all the time as you look around, breathe, and eat. Help keep your face free of germs by finding the technique that stops you from touching your face hundreds or thousands of times each day.

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How to Stop Touching Your Face to Prevent Germs