As the coronavirus continues to spread — driven by humans coming into close contact with one another — we are all familiar with the seemingly simple steps that could quiet the march of these increasingly fearsome microbes across the country. But the basic directive to stop touching your face can be difficult to follow for men who exercise a lot. During an intense exercise session (at home or in your local garden), there will be a lot of mostly sweat-stimulated facial contact—rolling your forehead, entering your eyes, causing your face to itch.
The call to keep your dirty paws away from your face has been promoted (especially if you don’t wash them after going outside and moving around) because the virus can live on different surfaces for up to three days, the National Institutes of Health reports. A recent study found that the coronavirus was detectable in aerosol sprays for nearly three hours, on cardboard for up to 24 hours, and on plastic and stainless steel for three days.
“Avoid touching your face especially when a contagious virus is spreading,” says Denise Butt, MD, an internal medicine physician at Manhattan Medical Offices in New York City. “Viruses can be transmitted easily by touching contaminated surfaces that your face follows such as the eyes, nose and mouth.”
Besides the possibility of wiping the face for a sweat session, just sitting around life in general provides plenty of incentives to touch all parts of your head. If you stop and count the number of times you unconsciously touch your face throughout the day, and don’t even look at a time when you’ve had a legitimate itch to scratch, rub your eye, or earlobe, it will shock you.
A 2015 study was published in American Journal of Infection Control We found that, on average, we put our hands and fingers on our faces more than 20 times per hour. Then imagine it’s covered in bacteria and viruses, and it’s no wonder that top health experts like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list limit touching the face as a primary way to keep the coronavirus out of your body.