Most self-touches are with the nondominant hand

Sci Rep. 2020 Jun 26;10(1):10457. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-67521-5.


Self-touch may promote the transfer of microorganisms between body parts or surfaces to mucosa. In overt videography of a post-graduate office, students spent 9% of their time touching their own hair, face, neck, and shoulders (HFNS). These data were collected from 274,000 s of surveillance video in a Chinese graduate student office. The non-dominant hand contributed to 66.1% of HFNS-touches. Most importantly, mucous membranes were touched, on average, 34.3 (SE = 2.4) times per hour, which the non-dominant hand contributed to 240% more than the dominant hand. Gender had no significant effect on touch frequency, but a significant effect on duration per touch. The duration per touch on the HFNS was fitted with a log-log linear distribution. Touch behaviour analysis included surface combinations and a probability matrix for sequential touches of 20 sub-surfaces. These findings may partly explain the observed variation in the literature regarding the microbiome community distribution on human skin, supporting the importance of indirect contact transmission route in some respiratory disease transmission and providing data for risk analysis of infection spread and control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Face
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality*
  • Hand
  • Humans
  • Infections / transmission
  • Male
  • Movement
  • Mucous Membrane / microbiology
  • Skin / microbiology
  • Touch*
  • Video Recording
  • Young Adult