17 Small and Easy Ways to Prevent Coronavirus
Here are the simplest ways to boost your hygiene and immunity to fight coronavirus.
Whether you know someone affected by it, or you've been keeping an eye on the news (and on social media), you're probably aware that there's a lot of information circulating about coronavirus (AKA COVID-19). With so much out there, it can be difficult to know what's accurate and truthful—and what's simply preying on your fears. While it's easy to feel panicked right now, it's important to stay educated with the facts so you can keep yourself happy and healthy. With that in mind, we consulted doctors to create a simple guide to help you prevent coronavirus. Keep scrolling for 17 of the easiest professional-approved ways to boost your personal hygiene and immunity during such an important time.
Wash your hands.
First and foremost, dermatologist Josh Zeichner, MD, urges washing your hands regularly. You don't need anything fancy. Just use plain old soap and water, and make sure to wash up thoroughly and for at least 20 seconds. "Think about the way you used to wash your hands in kindergarten," Zeichner says. "Lather soap in your hands as you sing the alphabet before rinsing off."
Only use hand sanitizer as an alternative.
If you absolutely don't have access to soap and water, use hand sanitizer. Physician Sara Gottfried, MD, recommends hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. "Rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds," she says.
Moisturize to keep your skin barrier healthy.
With all that hand washing and sanitizing, it's easy for your hands to feel like the Sahara Desert. To keep the skin barrier of your hands healthy, Zeichner suggests keeping up with a moisturizing routine. "Over-washing can lead to dryness, irritation, and cracks in the skin. This can lead to rashes and even put your hands at risk for skin infections," he says. And that's the last thing you want when you're already trying to prevent a virus.
Clean your rings.
Just as important as washing your hands, make sure to clean your jewelry as well. Everyday jewelry, such as engagement or wedding rings, are dirtier than you think. "Dirt, oil, and microorganisms can live and build up there and potentially spread infections," Zeichner says. Give them a good rinse with a jewelry cleaning solution or wipe every morning after you wake up or at night before you go to bed.
Disinfect door knobs and electronics.
With so many events getting canceled, you're probably spending a lot more time at home right now. And it's best for your personal hygiene to keep your quarters in tip-top shape. How exactly? "Regularly disinfect frequently touched items like door knobs and [electronics]," Zeichner says. This includes the more unexpected things like your TV remote and more obvious objects like your cell phone and laptop.
Stop touching your face.
"Contaminated fingers can lead to spread of the infection," explains Zeicher. So avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose with dirty fingers. In theory, it sounds easy enough, but it's a lot harder than you think. If you find that you're constantly touching your face to adjust your hair, pull your hair back. And if you're a contact lens wearer, make sure to thoroughly clean your hands before touching your eyes.
Throw away your tissues.
If you sneeze, cough, or blow your nose, immediately dispose of your tissues. It's simple, but it goes a long way. Not only does this action keep your personal germs at bay so you don't spread them to others around you, but by not reusing tissues, you're also making sure that you don't expose your nose to any new germs.
Because coronavirus is a respiratory illness, smokers are at a higher risk. If you occasionally smoke, it's best to avoid it. And if you're an everyday smoker, this might be the best time to try to quit or seek help for quitting.
Decrease your stress.
Yes, your stress levels can definitely contribute to your health. Long-term stress can affect everything from your immunity and your digestion to your sleep and reproductive systems. Notice what your stressors are, and attempt to minimize them as much as possible. If you're unsure how to reduce your stress during this time, seek out a doctor for their best advice.
Get enough sleep.
If you're feeling extra anxious right now, you might not realize that your sleep is suffering. Gottfried encourages healthy sleep practices: around seven to eight and a half hours for healthy adults. This means you might have to implement a bedtime. Use the function on your phone as a gentle reminder to wind down.
Keep up with your workout routine.
Sure, right now might not be the best time for a packed class of hot yoga where sweat is flinging in every direction, but Gottfried says it's important to make sure you're still getting regular exercise—without overtraining or overexerting yourself, of course. As always, if you're not feeling well, wait until you're feeling better to work out again.
Take vitamin supplements.
Supplements aren't magical pills. But some experts believe that they could be beneficial, especially in times when you need a little bit of an immunity boost. "Consider supplements like vitamin C and D," Gottfried advises. "I like to keep vitamin D levels [around] 50 to 90 ng/mL, and generally take higher doses the morning before a flight."
Don't forget about your gut health.
Your gut health can impact everything. "When the microbes in your body are in balance—i.e., when your microbiome is in homeostasis—you are far less likely to be sick," Gottfried says. To help boost your gut health, she recommends taking both prebiotics, such as human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), and probiotics. Kombucha, anyone?
Avoid fast food.
Having one French fry likely won't compromise your entire immune system, but Joel Fuhrman, MD, author of Eat for Life, warns that there's a larger problem at hand. "Fast food nutrition and the high consumption of empty calories create an army of immune compromised individuals of all ages who have immune systems like 95-year-olds," he says. So for now, it might be best to avoid the quick-fix foods even if they're cheaper and easier to grab on the way home.
Eat optimized foods.
Right now, it's best to eat a diet full of nutrition-rich vegetables and fruits, complex proteins, and whole grains. "Eat cooked mushrooms and beans, one large green salad with raw onion or scallion, berries [and] seeds, such as flax, chia, or hemp seeds every day," Fuhrman suggests.
Maintain social distancing.
Perhaps you've heard this term thrown around. It's not quite as complex as it might sound. "Maintain at least three-feet distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing," notes the World Health Organization (WHO). If you use public transportation, you can practice social distancing by standing near the doors, moving if there's a sick passenger, or waiting for a less-crowded train or bus.
Avoid touching others.
Speaking of interacting with people, WHO advises to keep touching at a minimum right now. Avoid kissing, hugging, high-fiving, and shaking hands. Rather than thinking of this as a restriction, think of this as a way to ensure you're keeping your friends and family safe. And remember—a heartfelt smile is a great alternative to a handshake.