Trypophobia on the skin: mysterious visions or a real threat?

Among the huge number of phobias that occur in humans, there is one interesting variety - trypophobia. It is expressed in fear of various openings. It would seem that what could be terrible about the holes? However, there are people who are terrified of them. Let's figure out what trypophobia is, what are the causes of its occurrence and methods of treatment.

What is trypophobia?

In short, this is simply a phobia that causes a state of panic (fear, anxiety) towards any object with many small holes located close to each other (honeycomb, soap bubbles, lotus flower, and other various holes, for more details see photo below).

This pathology is considered relatively new, as it was first identified in 2000.

Trypophobia was officially recognized as a disease in 2004 by specialists from the University of Oxford.

In a person with this pathology, at the sight of cluster holes, strong psycho-emotional arousal begins. Moreover, panic can arise even at the thought of “holes” or the anticipation of meeting them.

How does hole phobia manifest itself?

When seeing frightening objects, a person experiences horror, panic, anxiety and other discomfort. During a panic attack, the patient behaves inappropriately, he screams, waves his arms and legs, and may attack someone. In addition to psycho-emotional and behavioral reactions, somatic manifestations of fear are observed.

Physical manifestations of phobia:

  • sweating;
  • increased blood pressure;
  • increased heart rate;
  • headache;
  • dizziness;
  • chills;
  • nausea;
  • spasms;
  • itching;
  • skin irritation and redness;
  • icing of the limbs.

During a panic attack, breathing problems, coordination problems, and a feeling of unreality of what is happening are observed.

Causes of trypophobia

In a state of panic, a person experiences many negative emotions, which are very difficult to cope with without outside participation. The causes of the pathology are still not fully understood. But there are certain provoking factors that lead to trypophobia.

  • Mental trauma. This can be explained by some negative event in the past associated with cluster holes. For example, if a person was attacked by a swarm of bees as a child, then he associates bad memories and emotions with honeycombs. If a person is very impressionable, then a similar situation can subsequently lead him to trypophobia.
  • Age. It is believed that this pathology occurs more often in older people than in the younger generation. Scientists explain this by the fact that old people have a lot of life experience and certain situations can make them remember the negative moments of their life and cause panic.
  • The presence of enlarged skin pores or acne in someone close to you or in yourself. A person will have a fear of the occurrence of such skin deformations or the aggravation of the situation, if any.
  • Heredity. It has been proven that trypophobia in humans can be transmitted genetically and occur without provoking factors.

It is believed that this pathology developed at the evolutionary level. For example, if a monkey had lesions on its skin, it means they had worms, etc. Because of this, the animals developed a feeling of anxiety and danger for their lives. This is exactly what was transmitted to man.

On the scientific side, it has been proven that the occurrence of trypophobia is associated with the brain’s incorrect interpretation of the objects seen and impaired association.

What is the most common cause of trypophobia?

Panic can occur on any object or product in which there are closely spaced small holes. But the most common culprits of fear are:

  • passages of worms, larvae;
  • honeycomb;
  • depressions in plants in place of seeds (sunflowers, corn);
  • food products (cheese, sausage with lard, bread);
  • sparkling water;
  • acne and enlarged pores on human skin;
  • natural phenomena (bubbles in puddles during rain).

Interesting! Panic occurs upon contact with both living and non-living objects.

Who are trypophobes?

▪️ Let's figure out who a trypophobe is and what his main fear is. The fear of small holes seems funny, but not to a trypophobe. He sees danger in it, and experiences the whole range of negative emotions, from simple discomfort to loss of consciousness.

▪️ Few ordinary people, seeing many holes in the ground, will stick their fingers there. After all, there may be snakes, spiders, or other dangers. He will simply turn around and walk away from this place. The reaction of a trypophobe will be slightly different.

▪️ Most psychiatrists assure that trypophobes are ordinary people with extreme disgust. This is not considered a deviation, but with trypophobia, the disorder can progress. Only when the patient reaches a severe stage will psychiatrists take care of him, but not before. Progressive researchers call for stopping the disorder at an early stage, avoiding serious changes in consciousness that are difficult to treat.

Symptoms of trypophobia

This pathology manifests itself in the form of an increase in anxiety and panic attacks. Trypophobia is also accompanied by:

  • trembling in the body, tremors in the hands;
  • tachycardia (rapid heartbeat);
  • difficulty breathing (there is a feeling of lack of air);
  • increased sweating;
  • obsessive ideas;
  • unreasonable fears;
  • allergic reactions;
  • nausea;
  • headaches, including migraines;
  • hyperemia of the skin.

Application of psychotherapeutic methods

A phobia can only be cured with the help of a psychotherapist. First, a specialist must identify the cause of fear. Sometimes a specialist works for several years with the same patient, since it is not always possible to immediately determine the factors that influenced the occurrence and development of the disease.

Its work is to eliminate the painful fixation of consciousness on pathological associations. It is necessary to emphasize that the patient is frightened not by the objects with holes themselves, but by the cavities of these holes, which cause unpleasant feelings. The doctor needs to apply several techniques at once, which should influence the subconscious and cognitive perception.

The following areas are used in psychotherapy:

  • Cognitive-behavioral technique. This method is aimed at eliminating cognitive distortions so that the patient can understand the cause of his own phobia and learn to determine the degree of danger of his fear. During treatment, the degree of horror of objects is significantly reduced.
  • Hypnotherapy combined with visualization. In this case, a special video series with pictures that evoke pleasant feelings is prepared for the trypophobe. At certain moments, stimuli are inserted, the number of which is gradually increased with each session. By the end of the treatment, the person will be calm about videos that are already entirely composed of irritating elements.

The psychotherapist must also strengthen the protective functions of his patient’s psyche, developing his stress resistance. Particular attention should be paid to relationships and family conflicts. The specialist helps you learn self-help methods that will reduce anxiety and help the trypophobe with the next panic attack.

Sessions can be individual or group. If you choose the right methods of psychotherapy and medications, you can expect positive results within a few months.

Stages of trypophobia

The disease is divided into 3 stages: mild, moderate and severe.

  • A mild degree is characterized by irritability, nervousness, mild tachycardia, and sweating. It does not threaten human life. But when this stage of pathology begins to appear, you need to immediately contact a specialist, since trypophobia progresses and the person develops serious mental disorders.
  • The average degree , in people with this phobia, is expressed by difficulty breathing, itchy skin, unreasonable fears, and trembling in the body.
  • In severe cases , a person suffers from severe panic attacks, headaches, nausea, vomiting, etc. Without a specialist, it is almost impossible to remove the patient from this condition. Such people cannot be left alone; they must be strictly controlled. It is also necessary to rid the patient of any objects that remind him of cluster holes.

Interesting! 80% of people suffering from trypophobia associate all small nearby holes of any objects (food, honeycombs, etc.) with problems on their skin, because of this fear appears, and then panic attacks. But for 20% of people, fear comes out of nowhere, it is not associated with dermatological problems. Scientists still cannot explain the mechanism of its occurrence.

Interesting Facts

In the process of diagnosing the disease, a method is used to demonstrate pictures that depict multiple holes on objects, plants, and the human body. The greatest disgust and panicky feeling in the test subjects with trypophobia was caused by photos of lips with ulcers, the skin of poisonous snakes, and honeycombs.

According to statistics, 80-90% of people on the planet are prone to trypophobia, while 10-20% of Homo sapiens are at the initial stage of developing this dangerous psychological disease.

Diagnosis of trypophobia

In order to diagnose trypophobia, you need to see a psychotherapist. Further, to confirm this diagnosis you need:

  • collect a medical history of the patient. Based on the conversation, the doctor will be able to assume the presence of this pathology or suspect another mental disorder;
  • do a test directly for trypophobia. To do this, the patient is asked to view pictures depicting cluster holes. If the test is positive, the doctor will notice such changes in the person as: the emergence of fear even when waiting to view photographs,
  • attempts to avoid viewing objects that cause panic attacks,
  • an increase in anxiety symptoms with viewing more than 1 photo (if viewing the images did not cause any emotions in a person, we can talk about a negative test and the absence of pathology);
  • If the test is positive, the doctor, based on the patient’s behavior and the severity of symptoms during a panic attack, must determine the severity of trypophobia and, based on this, prescribe treatment.
  • Consequences of a neglected phobia

    As the phobia develops, complications arise: depression, withdrawal, hallucinations. Fear of cluster holes in the body or other objects interferes with socialization and personality development. Most people do not understand such fear; they laugh at trypophobes or express outright hostility towards them.

    We are surrounded by many objects with clustered holes; fortunately, in most cases, trypophobia is frightened by a specific object or group, and not by all living and inanimate objects with holes. For example, a patient is afraid only of cheese or only of honeycombs. But even in this situation, the patient’s life can hardly be called pleasant and fulfilling. Avoiding the feared object does not solve the problem. Without treatment, the symptoms of a phobia, as well as the person’s general well-being, will worsen.

    Treatment of trypophobia

    Many people wonder how to get rid of trypophobia, but no one knows the exact answer. Treatment of pathology should be aimed at restoring a person’s mental and physical health. Various methods can be used for this, ranging from traditional medicines to hypnosis.

    The main thing is that after a course of treatment, a person, looking at images of cluster holes, does not feel a sense of fear and danger.

    Important! There is no single treatment method for trypophobia! For each person, treatment is selected purely individually.

    Drug treatment

    To treat trypophobia, medications are prescribed that calm the nervous system and have a sedative effect.

    These include antidepressants, tranquilizers, beta blockers.

    • Tranquilizers are medications that relieve a person from feelings of fear, anxiety and panic. The best treatments for trypophobia are benzodiazepine drugs (Phenazepam, Xanax, Sibazon, Diazepam). But, it should be taken into account that all of the listed means tend to form addiction in humans.
    • Antidepressants are drugs that increase pathologically depressed mood. These remedies will help a person restore their mental health. The best of them for the treatment of trypophobia are selective antidepressants that block the reuptake of serotonin. These include Fluvoxamine, Sertraline, etc.
    • Beta blockers are drugs that block beta adrenergic receptors. As a result, the production of adrenaline decreases, and the symptoms of a panic attack become less pronounced (no cardiac tachycardia, sweating, difficulty breathing). The most used drugs in this group are Anaprilin, Talinolol, Bisoprolol, Carvedilol, etc.

    Drug treatment is prescribed only in special cases, because this is due to the seriousness of these drugs.

    Almost all of them have a “withdrawal syndrome,” that is, there is a psychological dependence on the listed medications. Also in healthy people, they will cause mental disorders, and not any positive effect.


    Trypophobia cannot be treated surgically. Perhaps in the future, neurosurgeons will be able to help people with this problem. But, since at present the phobia of holes has not been thoroughly studied, it is not known in which part of the brain the malfunctions occur and where removal should be carried out - surgical intervention is pointless and can only aggravate the situation.


    If you turn to a psychotherapist, he can offer several treatment methods - cognitive behavioral and exposure therapy.

    In the first case, a psychotherapist studies a person’s consciousness, his thoughts, and behavior. Tries to find the root cause of the phobia and eliminate it. Typically, group sessions have a greater effect on a person than individual ones.

    Research results

    It has been noticed that the symptoms of fear of holes are more pronounced in the afternoon than in the morning. This may be due to excess adrenaline and the body’s desire to use it up.

    Scientists have found that all the unpleasant symptoms that accompany trypophobia are the brain’s reaction to potential danger. It is worth noting that any other phobia causes only fear, while a person suffering from a fear of holes experiences disgust and physical discomfort.

    The attack is accompanied by the release of an additional portion of adrenaline into the blood. This leads to some dependence. A person wants to relive those vivid impressions again and again. For this reason, he strives to find some pictures on the Internet created using Photoshop. To get rid of such a disorder, you need to break this endless circle and return the individual to normal.

    Self-treatment of trypophobia

    To begin with, a person with this pathology should:

    • include physical exercise in your lifestyle (exercise not only strengthens muscles but also has a positive effect on thinking);
    • monitor your sleep (avoid lack of sleep, but also do not oversleep);
    • stop drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes and caffeine (as these substances often cause anxiety in a person).

    Also, experts recommend starting to practice yoga or meditation. These relaxation methods will allow you to relax your entire body, free your mind from extraneous thoughts, and achieve mental peace.

    Step-by-step method for self-treatment of phobias

    A person should be alone and in silence.

    • You need to lie down comfortably, close your eyes and think about the object that causes panic attacks. Then you should evaluate the severity of the symptoms that arose at that moment on a scale from 0 to 10.
    • Next, you need to think about something beautiful that evokes only positive emotions. You can turn on some nice music. This is necessary in order to distract the brain from previous symptoms. Then you need to open your eyes, look to the sides, into the distance.
    • Now you need to think about the phobia again and evaluate the severity of the symptoms from 0 to 10. If the number has decreased by at least 1 unit, then the technique is working.

    These exercises should be performed 5-6 times a day, only then can you achieve good results and completely get rid of the pathology.

    Is it possible to heal yourself?

    Unfortunately, only a few can cope with the disease on their own, because the disease occurs at the level of the subconscious, which many people are unable to control. As the main measures to help overcome trypophobia at home, it is worth noting first of all:

    • meditation;
    • relaxation;
    • situational training.

    It is important to prepare for attacks because they usually occur at the most inopportune times. Trypophobia often causes itching or redness on the human body, so it is necessary to carry antiallergic medications with you to reduce discomfort. In addition, you should always have clean water, ammonia or other means on hand that will help you quickly come to your senses in case of fainting.

    Accumulation of holes on the body - myth or reality?

    Psychologists have repeatedly noticed that many infectious diseases, such as smallpox, measles, rubella and scarlet fever, cause cluster circles on the skin.

    Some bites from permanent or temporary ectoparasites (scabies, mites, and botflies) result in similar patterns. A rather unpleasant sight is caused by the larvae of the Tumbu fly, which crawl under the skin of humans and animals, forming huge boils. Small holes may also appear on the soles of the feet, causing tingling, pinching and an unpleasant odor; this is how pinpoint keratolysis manifests itself. The listed conditions are physical effects, and trypophobia is completely a psychological disorder.

    Phobia fear of holes - is it a disease of the human body or a mental disorder?

    Such a mental disorder, although not a direct disease of the body, inspires a constant horror of “devouring” parts of the body. The patient becomes fixated on his fears and gradually withdraws into himself, fearing the ridicule of others. Images from the Internet with some degree of disgust, along with compelling stories about a strange disease, haunt sufferers for hours and even days. The disease is dangerous because a person loses coordination of movements, and his performance decreases. Of course, there are people who consider such fear to be simply psychological curiosity.

    As with other mental fears, an attack of trypophobia develops suddenly and fleetingly.

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