Cold viruses spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes, sending virus-infected droplets into the air. The viruses that cause colds can also live on any object or surface that an infected person comes in contact with. These viruses can continue to live on door handles, toys, towels and other frequently touched surfaces for days after being touched by a person with a cold.
Washing your hands thoroughly and often will help to reduce your chances of catching a cold from having touched a surface infected with one of the more than 200 different viruses that can cause a cold. If you already have a cold, washing your hands can help to prevent your cold virus from spreading to those around you.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a five-step process for washing your hands:1
Young children may need help washing their hands well, so when you’re done washing your own hands, help your kids to do the same. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to help protect against catching a cold.
Cold viruses can enter your body through your eyes, nose, and mouth, so avoid touching these areas with unwashed hands. It’s also a good idea to stay away from people who are sick, as the viruses that cause the common cold can spread through close personal contact or even through the air.
If you have a cold, here are a few tips to protect those around you from catching a cold, too:2
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