When it comes to an action as involuntarily as sneezing, there is little we can do about it. When we feel the urge to cough or sneeze, our reflex reaction is to cover our mouth with our hands.
But what if we told you that you have been sneezing the wrong way all along and no, we are NOT kidding?
As a society, we have been taught since childhood to say “excuse me” and “I am sorry”, whenever we cough or sneeze.
But what we are NOT told (or we have conveniently forgotten) is that when your body is clearing out the airways with a sudden expulsion of air out of the nose and mouth, you are not supposed to use your hands as a cover. You need to change the way you sneeze
Yes, we know that nobody is carrying tissues or handkerchiefs all the time and sneezes do come unannounced. But if you sneeze on your hands, it actually becomes really easy to transfer those germs to someone else, from doorknobs, taps to handrails.
“If somebody sneezes into their hands, that creates an opportunity for those germs to be passed on to other people, or contaminate other objects that people touch,” Dr Vincent Hill, chief of the waterborne disease prevention branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What should you do instead?
Thankfully, the solution is not that difficult. If you do not have a tissue or napkin handy, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve (not on your palms) or in the bend of your arm. The important thing to remember is that you will still need to WASH your hands after sneezing.
Did you know that this hygiene etiquette, issued by CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), has been around for more than a decade? Yeah, no kidding. So the next time you have the urge to expel a million bacteria out of your airways, we suggest that you steer clear of using your hands.