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Sneezetiquette – the do’s and don’t of sneezing

Published on April 12, 2018

Sneezetiquette – the do’s and don’t of sneezing

Sneezing is caused by irritation of the mucous membranes of the nose or throat. It can be triggered by conditions such as an allergy to pollen, mould, dust or dander, the common cold, dry air, spicy food or even strong emotions. Although sneezing is usually not a sign of a serious condition, it can be annoying, especially when it happens frequently. Here are some tips to help make sure you are sneezing as safely, and politely, as possible:

  1. Sneezing and coughing release potentially infectious droplets that can stay in the air for quite some time. To minimise the risk of spreading germs to others, cover your sneeze with a tissue and then throw it into a rubbish bin straight away. Alternatively, think green and start carrying a handkerchief.
  2. If you don’t have a hanky or tissue with you, sneeze into your elbow or sleeve to keep germs away from your hands and help reduce the spread of infections.
  3. If you do cough or sneeze into your hands, wash them immediately. In order to remove the majority of germs, remember to use good technique when washing your hands. Rub soap over all areas of your hands including between your fingers, thumbs and backs of hands. Wash for at least ten seconds.
  4. If you don’t have immediate access to soap and clean water, an alcohol‐based hand sanitiser is fine. Look for a product that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  5. Always turn away from others when you sneeze.

Reference: 1. Cover your cough and sneeze – poster. health.vic (accessed 6 March 2018)


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