AUSTIN (KXAN) – Both the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control are sharing one piece of advice as the coronavirus spreads around the world: stop touching your face. “Touching your face after touching contaminated surfaces or sick people is one of the ways the #coronavirus can be transmitted,” said the director-general of the WHO, Tedros Adhanmon Ghebreyesus, in a tweet last week.

But not touching your face is very challenging. One study found that people touch their faces as much as 23 times an hour. While another found that people in public places touch their faces 3.6 times an hour. Either way, people love touching their faces.

Tips to prevent touching your face

So what can you do to keep your grubby mitts off of your face? The experts recommend leaving notes or setting alarms that can remind you not to touch your face so much.

Wearing a scarf can help realize how often you touch your face. Wearing face masks accomplishes the same goal, but they should be reserved for people who are actually sick.

You can also keep your hands occupied. Buy a stress ball or fidget spinner. You can even sit on your hands while in meetings or watching TV.

Finally, if you have to touch your face, use a tissue.

Why do we touch our faces so much?

Some research points to self-touch being connected to anxiety or discomfort. In an interview with Business Insider, Kevin Chapman, director of the Kentucky Center for Anxiety and Related Disorder, says that touching your face signals to other people that you are self-aware.