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Don’t touch your face. It’s something most of us do more than 20 times an hour but the official advice is not to so that coronavirus doesn’t spread any faster. THIS IS GOOD ADVICE. Viruses can breed on the surface but skin is a fantastic barrier – its the touching of your eyes, mouth or nose, or if you scratch yourself, which allows them to get in and do harm.

The same advice applies to breakouts, but not for the same reason. The standard line is that touching our face can spread dirt, oil, and bacteria from our hands to our face, which can lead to clogged pores and breakouts. Really?


First off, the bacteria which live on your fingers are not the same as those living on your face. There a lots of different types of bacteria on your fingers, some resident, some transient, with the dominant species being Staphylococcus epidermidis. This is different to the bacteria found in the bodies sebaceous sites (think forehead, back, side of nostrils). Here bacterial diversity is low and P.Acnes has evolved to be the dominant species – this is one of the reasons P.Acnes is associated with acne, it loves skin oil and hangs around wherever that is.

When you touch your face you introduce those transient finger bacteria but they do not usually hang-around & multiply on facial skin because the alien facial environment doesn’t allow them to compete with the resident P.acnes. This is why a healthy skin biome is so important & why there is no good bacteria / bad bacteria & why killing all the P.Acnes can allow other bacteria to get a footing.

OK what about dirt and oil from our fingers causing our pores to clog?

Nope, not happening either. A pore is like a continuously squeezed toothpaste tube – if it clogs, it does so from the inside out, not the other way round (save for some specific chemicals). Dirt & oil from your fingers are unlikely to get into your pores in such a quantity to block a pore.

So why not touch your face?

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