Why do we keep touching our faces

touching
Why do we keep touching our faces

We touch our face 400 to 800 times a day

© Jacob Lund – Adobe Stock

Hygienists, dermatologists and beauticians strongly recommend this: don’t touch your face. However, everyone does it hundreds of times a day. Why is that and what impact these touches have on our well-being

We do this when we are thinking, when we are very concentrated, or as an expression of surprise and joy: we humans are constantly touching our faces. Touching with hands is completely independent of culture, gender or age – it seems to be deeply rooted in man.

In most cases, we touch our face unconsciously – it is only when we try to pay attention to it that we quickly notice how often our hands touch our cheeks, chin, forehead or mouth. Sometimes it’s just short touches, sometimes our hands stay on our face for a long time.

But why are we doing this? What is the effect of continuous touching? After all, we are doing our immune system a disservice. Germs that we previously “collected” with our hands on door handles or handrails can easily enter the body through the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and mouth.

Touch affects brain activity

Touch researcher prof. dr. According to Martin Grunwald from the University of Leipzig, everyone unconsciously touches their face 400-800 times a day. It begins in the womb while we are still swimming in the amniotic fluid as a fetus. Scientists have observed that the fetus affects itself more often when the mother has to process sad or emotionally charged stimuli such as movies or music, and when stress levels increase.

Ultrasound of the fetus in the uterus

Even before birth, fetuses regularly touch the face in the womb

© IMAGO / UIG

Grunwald is the founder and head of the touch laboratory at the Brain Research Institute. Paul Flechsig and explored what this touch is good for our body. He and his team conducted two electroencephalographic studies and analyzed the electrical activity of the brain during such spontaneous self-touches.

Research has shown that brain activity before and after spontaneous self-touch is completely different. According to the researchers, a short and spontaneous touch changed brain activity in certain areas. “We explain these changes by saying that a short tactile stimulus increases brain activity, which is responsible for stabilizing the emotional state and stabilizing working memory. mental balance, ”says Martin Grunwald.

According to the findings of a research team at the University of Leipzig, touching with the face is primarily a sign of stress or tension and helps to concentrate better and block out external irritants. Touch helps the brain to prevent temporary memory loss and restore mental balance.

However, Grunwald explains that this effect only applies to unconscious, spontaneous touches. A measurable effect in the brain could not be simulated by consciously touching yourself. Consequently, they are in the nature of spontaneously touching each other that they generally elude our conscious control.

Martin Grunwald doesn’t think too much about controlling unconscious touching of the face: “This project can trigger stress reactions which in turn – of course – want to be compensated by spontaneous touching themselves. an already stressful overall social situation. If you are asked not to touch your face, if possible, you are fueling a potentially unhealthy cycle. “

Instead, she recommends avoiding anything that causes additional stress. Attempts at mental control to increase hygiene should be better used for active and intensive hand washing.

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