A man blows his nose

Runny Nose: How to Stay Sanitary

The common cold is one of the most common causes of a runny nose. Since it is often the result of a viral infection, it's something that is difficult to treat and easy to spread to others. When you have a runny nose and are experiencing other symptoms of the common cold, here are some steps you can take to protect others from becoming infected as well.

Wash your hands often.

Viruses live on your hands, and regular hand washing can help to protect you and others from getting sick. You should use warm water and scrub your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds. When you have symptoms of the common cold, such as a runny nose, you should wash your hands as often as possible, and especially after blowing your nose. You can use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you are unable to wash your hands with soap and water.

Avoid contact with mucus as much as possible.

Since the virus is able to live on your hands, try not to directly touch any of the mucus or discharge from your nose as much as you can. Always use tissues when blowing your nose or wiping away any excess mucus or discharge.

Don’t wipe nasal discharge on your clothing.

Though it is easy and convenient to wipe excess nasal discharge on your shirt sleeve, try to avoid this as much as possible. Young children are especially prone to doing this. This makes it easier for the infection to spread to others.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

It is easy for viruses to enter your body through your eyes, nose, and mouth, so avoid this to prevent further infection.

Stay home if you are running a fever.

While you are running a fever, you will be more contagious to those around you. To avoid infecting others, don’t go to school or work if you are running a fever.

Avoid close contact with others.

Avoid hugging, kissing, or shaking hands while you are experiencing the symptoms of a cold such as runny nose or fever. This is an easy way for the virus to transfer from you to the other person; even if you are being diligent about washing your hands, the virus could still be present on your skin.

Completely cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.

When you cough or sneeze, you are sending thousands of infectious microscopic virus particles flying through the air. If you don’t cover your mouth and nose, these particles could land on any surface that is surrounding you and make it easier for other people to pick up the virus and become sick as well.

Teach children to cough and sneeze into their elbow, wipe their nose with disposable tissues, and wash their hands often.

Children who aren’t as diligent about these habits make it easy for an entire classroom to become infected with the same virus. Since children are already more susceptible to viruses such as the common cold because they have less-developed immune systems, you should teach your children good habits while they are sick to prevent spreading to other children. 

Last Updated: December 01, 2016