Chances are that you touch your face countless times each day. You’re not alone – the majority of us do this to the point where it has become second nature. Whether you’re currently resting your chin on your hand while you read this or you’ve been checking to see if that forehead pimple has grown, you may even be touching your face right now, or have likely done so very recently.
So, what’s the problem with all of this face touching? Turns out, it could be the culprit behind those pesky skin problems you’ve been dealing with. However, don’t start worrying just yet – read on to learn more about the issues that touching your face can cause, along with tips on how to put a stop to this lifelong habit.
The Spread of Germs and Bacteria
Think about the many different surfaces that your hands touch over the course of a day – from door handles to car keys to your electronic devices. Each one of those contains literally millions of different microbes, some good and some bad. Whenever you touch another surface, those microbes are then transferred onto your hands.
You can imagine what happens next – all of those germs that are on your hands end up on your face. The more you touch your face, the more germs you spread.
However, it doesn’t stop there for those of you with acne-prone skin. Now that you’ve touched your face, you’ve also transferred the p.acnes bacteria from your face onto your hands. It probably won’t be long before you touch your face again, but this time, your hands may come into contact with a breakout-free area. Unfortunately, now that you’ve transferred the p.acnes bacteria from your hands back onto your skin, that clear pocket of your complexion will soon be sporting new pimples of its own.
The Spread of Oil
It’s not just bacteria that spreads each time you touch your face – you’ll also be transferring oil from one part of your face to another.
Excess oil on the surface of the skin quickly ends up in the pores. Here, it mixes with dirt and dead skin cells, forming a blockage. Once bacteria enters that blockage (which won’t take long if you often touch your face), a breakout soon erupts.
Picking and Scarring
Picking at pimples is a subconscious habit for many, but this is something that you should be avoiding at all costs.
As frustrating as it may be, you need to allow your pimples to run their course, although you can use certain topical ingredients and products to speed this natural process up. Popping a pimple only interrupts this healing process and therefore prolongs it. As a result, you’ll be more prone to scarring, as well as to even more breakouts.
Rubbing and Wrinkles
While acne is one of the biggest side effects of frequently touching your face, rubbing or tugging at your skin can accelerate the development of fine lines and wrinkles.
How? Because each time you pull at your skin, you’re damaging the collagen and elastin fibers that lie beneath. Both of these are proteins that give your skin structure. The less of these proteins you have, the looser, saggier, and more wrinkled your skin will appear. It doesn’t help that these protein fibers naturally weaken with age, making it even more important to preserve them as much as you can.
Vulnerability to Viruses
It’s not just your skin that suffers each time you touch your face – you’re putting your body at risk too. Once again, it comes down to bacteria. However, this time, we’re not talking about the p.acnes bacteria – instead, the issue lies with all of those other germs and viruses that can make you ill, from the flu to Covid-19 (hence the obsession with hand sanitizer!).
The skin on your hands is thick. When these viruses linger on your hands, they don’t actually enter into your body. However, this changes once you touch your face, leaving your body vulnerable to illness.
How to Stop Touching Your Face
At this point, you’re probably ready to keep your hands as far away from your face as possible. However, this is easier said than done. For many, face touching is a habit that they don’t even realize they’re doing, making it a difficult one to put a stop to.
Don’t worry, it’s not impossible. Here are a few tips that should help you to stop touching your face quite so often:
Identify Your Triggers
There’ll be certain things that cause you to inadvertently reach up and touch your face, whether this may be to rub at dry skin, pick at a pimple, or brush your hair off your forehead.
Once you know your triggers, you’ll be better equipped to avoid them. This could mean that you start wearing your hair in a way that keeps it off your face, or place pimple patches over spots, or always have a moisturizer to hand for whenever your skin feels dry or itchy. Speaking of, if you’re looking to stock up on some new natural skincare, check out the post right here.
Redirect Your Hands
If your hands seem to have a mind of their own and are still frequently wandering up to your face, it’s time to redirect them. Try putting your hands in your pockets, wearing a pair of gloves, or even sitting on your hands when the temptation to pick at that pimple becomes too much to bear.
Give Yourself Reminders
The more you’re reminded to stop touching your face, the more conscious of your actions you’ll be. So, set some reminders on your phone throughout the day – each time you glance down at a notification telling you to stop touching your face, you’ll remember to keep your hands away…at least for a while! Post-it notes placed strategically around your home and office can have the same effect.
Enlisting the help of friends, family, and co-workers can be helpful too. Ask those that spend the most time around you to let you know each time you’re unintentionally touching your face. You can also do the same for them!
Keep Your Hands Clean
Even clean hands will still harbor bacteria and oil, but not to the same extent as hands that haven’t been washed for several hours. So, keeping your hands as clean as possible will help to keep your face safe.
While hand sanitizers may be great for destroying germs, don’t depend too heavily on these. In order for them to be effective, they need to be formulated with a very high alcohol content, but this has an extremely drying, and therefore aging, effect on the skin.
Instead, turn to a gentle hand wash and make sure that you apply a hand cream as soon as you’re done, ideally while your skin is still damp, to keep hand wrinkles away.
It’s not often that dermatologists and industry experts all agree on one thing, but, when it comes to touching your face, anyone that knows their stuff will confidently say that you should be putting a stop to this as soon as possible. It may seem difficult at first, but taking the necessary steps to keep your hands away from your face will save you from having to deal with an abundance of skin issues in the future.