We’ve all heard it by now: the best way to avoid contracting COVID-19, known as the coronavirus, is to wash your hands, use hand sanitizer and wipes when soap isn’t available, and in general, take good care of your health.

But there’s one more crucial step in personal sanitation: we’ve got to stop touching our faces. You might think, “I don’t touch my face that often,” but how many times did you scratch an itch today? Or cross your arms? Get something out of your eye, run your fingers through your hair, or pick at something on your skin? We interact with our bodies in reflexive and subconscious ways all day long. It would be absurd to have any idea how many times you did those things, and that’s where our problem lies: we don’t know we’re doing it.

In 2015, there was a small study done involving 26 students from the University of New South Wales. In order to study their face-touching behavior, they were videotaped and observed. On average, each student touched their face a whopping 23 times per hour, with 44% of those involving contact with a mucous membrane.

It’s through that mucous membrane that germs make their way into your system. And we are touching our mucous membranes, without our being aware of it, all the time. So how do we stop?

MORE INFO: 7 easy ways to stop touching your face

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