ZocdocAnswersCan touching one's face cause one to catch cold?

Question

Can touching one's face cause one to catch cold?

I've heard that you can catch a cold if you touch your face too often. Is that true? How is that possible? I just don't understand how your own hands could make you sick.

Answer

The common cold is an upper respiratory infection characterized by one or more of the following symptoms: cough, congestion, sneezing, runny nose, and sore throat. Most people recover in seven to ten days. A cold is caused by a virus and is highly contagious. A cold virus enters your body through your eyes, nose or mouth. It is correct that touching your face can increase your risk of getting sick. Most cold and flu viruses are spread by direct contact. If someone sneezes into their hand and then touches a telephone, counter-top, doorknob, etc, the virus can live on that surface for hours to days and be spread to you when you touch the contaminated object. Then if you bring your contaminated hand to your face you are making it more likely that the virus will be able to enter your body and make you sick. Besides avoiding touching your face, there are multiple other methods to prevent catching a cold or the flu. The most important and effective way is to wash your hands often. Make sure to get your flu shot every year. Don't smoke, drink plenty of fluids, and get plenty of rest to keep your immune system strong.

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