Coronavirus: the dangers of touching your face

On any given day, in all the thousands of operations that are carried out in the operating rooms of our country and the rest of the world, health personnel made up of surgeons, assistants and instrumentalists carefully wash their hands before putting on surgical gloves. About the year 1840, the doctor of Hungarian origin Semmelweis discovered that a simple handwashing with soap and water by healthcare personnel drastically decreased the mortality from infections of the women giving birth to the Vienna hospital. His discovery was misplaced by the rest of the doctors, which caused him to be fired from the hospital. Years later hand washing was universally accepted, but it was not an easy thing.

Can you imagine that after taking these hygiene measures, the health personnel of the operating rooms will touch their faces? this is unthinkable and is totally prohibited. The so-called T zone, well known in the world of infectious diseases, made up of the eyes, nose and mouth, is one of the areas of the body through which viruses or bacteria can more easily enter our body.

Mechanism of contagion

Why do we touch our faces? It seems that these types of gestures are an evolutionary trait of our behavior that could have originated in one of the oldest parts of our brain. In fact other primates like orangutans, chimpanzees or gorillas also do it. It has been shown in studies that touching the face activates pleasure areas of our brain. There are several scientific studies conducted in offices or with medical students in which it has been verified that we touch our faces up to 23 times an hour, most of them unconsciously.

A coronavirus can remain active between 72 hours and nine days

The mechanism by which we infect ourselves is as follows: an infected person coughs and virus-laden droplets remain on the surfaces. A table, chair, door knob, keyboard, airport tray, etc. A coronavirus is known to be active, depending on conditions, for between 72 hours and nine days. It seems that on smooth surfaces, such as metal or plastic, it resists more than on rough surfaces such as clothing or fabric. When we touch these objects with our hands we acquire the virus.

Preventive hygiene

It has been seen in a study of rhinovirus, responsible for the common cold, that after one hour of contact with it, 40% of the virus on the skin was still viable and after three hours, 16% was still viable. Then we involuntarily bring our hands to our faces to rub our eyes, scratch our ears, put our hands in our mouths … and the virus penetrates our body through the mucosa producing an infection.

The good news is that it has been seen, in other epidemics that the habit of washing hands reduces the possibility of acquiring the disease by up to 50%. But reducing the habit of touching your face is not so easy. Women with makeup are more aware and less inclined to perform this gesture. Wearing glasses instead of contact lenses can help, avoiding dry lips and eyes can reduce contact. The bad thing is that as we become obsessed it will be difficult to avoid the compulsion to touch the area. Have a pack of disposable tissues near or the hand occupied with an objectIt can also help.

Above all remember that hands must be washed frequentlye and do it well or use disinfectant since the effects of washing will only last until it touches another contaminated surface. If you have to sneeze, interpose a handkerchief or your elbow, but not your hand. Remember, as our grandparents said: "be careful that your hands go to the bread."

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