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Do You Pick Your Face? Here’s How to Stop

Our new normal has shifted beyond anything we could of thought to happen this lifetime. Beyond watching how-to’s on hand-washing (who knew we needed a tutorial on this?) and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces (think doorknobs, keyboards, phones, keys, and faucets), the CDC makes note of avoiding something many are already guilty of: facial touching and picking.

Now that many of us are on frequent video calls, we’re seeing (and dissecting, picking, and touching) our faces more than perhaps ever before. While they maintain that “the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus” (through six feet of social distancing and wearing masks), they also strongly urge the public to “avoid touching [their] eyes, nose, and mouth” in an effort to protect themselves and others.

If you’re a frequent face toucher and you’ve been itching (quite literally) to kick this bad habit to the curb, now’s as good a time as any. Below, uncover the real reason you’re constantly touching your face and how you can get rid of the urge for good.

The Importance of Not Touching Your Face

What was once a simple bad habit has turned into a real method of COVID-19 transmission. The CDC and World Health Organization have made statements about the respiratory infection entering the body via the mucous membranes on the face. The avoidance of picking or even touching of the face has moved into the red alert category. And because the virus has been shown to survive for anywhere from two to 24 hours depending on the surface, the simple act of touching a grocery store handle and then your face (even while wearing gloves) can give you first-person contact with COVID-19 as well as other viruses.

Facial picking used to be a cause of concern among skin care professionals for the cosmetic damage it could leave behind, but it has now become a matter of public health. Now, we are worried about life and death, as the virus can cause serious illness in both the young and old.

Common Reasons Why People Pick Their Face

Statistics reveal that we are all guilty of touching our face upwards of 20 times a day without even having a conscious awareness of doing it. While picking at the face is most often an automatic and unconscious response, this still bodes the question: What’s the real reason behind this strong urge? Below, a few common reasons.

  • Boredom and nervousness: Like nail biting, facial picking can be triggered by feelings of boredom or nervousness. A study done by the University of Montreal found that body-focused repetitive behaviors (like skin picking) can potentially be caused by anxiety.
  • Stress: Oftentimes stress makes conditions such as acne or eczema flare up, which contributes to the “pick.” Also, during times of heightened stress (including stress stemming from a rapidly spreading virus), facial touching has become a nervous habit among those who may not have had it before.
  • Reflex reaction. Most of the need-to-touch feelings subside in about 60 to 90 seconds but the immediate relief makes it irresistible to respond. Face touching provides immediate relief that eventually makes it a habitual response that’s resistant to change.

How to Stop Touching and Picking Your Face

  • Be aware: Make a concerted effort to be aware of the exact moments you’re picking at your face—this will determine if there are triggers (for example, when you’re watching the news).
  • Find a competing response: When you catch yourself wanting to pick your face, distraction is key. Clenching your fist for 60 seconds, for example, is a great way to replace touching your face until the urge subsides.
  • Practice purposeful relaxing: Sometimes a few deep meditative breaths can help ward off the urge to pick. Touch the area below the base of your skull with your thumbs (right above your neck) and press gently—you’ll feel more relaxed and the need to touch will subside.
  • Occupy your hands: Right now, especially, occupy your hands by washing them. Object manipulation is also effective at breaking the habit. Try stress balls or fidget gadgets that you can find on Amazon to keep your hands occupied.

Unwind at Botanica Day Spa 

We all have been trying to shift into the new pandemic ways of life, and while we all need to make a strong effort not to pick our face, one thing stands the test on what to do when we’re stressed out and that’s relaxing with a massage. At Botanica Day Spa, we are open and ready to pamper you to the max. Contact us today at 727-441-1711 to book your facial, massage, mani/pedi, and more!



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