Skip to content



The trypophobia , in contrast to many other phobias is not really well known. This word comes from the Greek, trypa means hole, and phobia as we all know consists of an irrational fear that can be more or less intense. In this case, with trypophobia we would be talking about a fear of holes , also of any pattern of geometric figures that are very close together.

Although you may have heard little about this phobia, it is more common than you can imagine. This phobia does not appear in the diagnostic manual for mental disorders (currently DSM V). However, thousands of people admit to having trypophobia; as they are repulsed and significantly anxious by observing patterns of small holes that are close together.

It is a very particular phobia, since in nature itself we find these characteristic patterns such as: ant hills, wasp hives, lotus seed. Without going any further, if we increase the vision of our skin we find ourselves before thousands of pores that follow this pattern of small agglomerated holes …

This irrational fear is usually in the presence of several holes, which appear in large numbers, rather small and not large. People who suffer from this phobia argue testimonies such as : “when I’m nervous or anxious about anything else, I can’t sleep, I close my eyes and I only see that, holes.”, “I feel like pulling my skin off because I feel like I have it stuck, like when they split a head of garlic. It is awful”; “I’m afraid something might come out of one of those holes.”

People who suffer from this phobia does not mean that they are sick , since it is not a disease. They simply feel heightened anxiety, worry, and even anguish or panic at an image that contains countless small holes grouped together. It is clear that this can interfere with the well-being of the person who suffers from the phobia, and in their basic activities of daily life , so it is advisable to go to a professional to make the diagnosis and start the most appropriate treatment, depending on of each case.

To better know what this phobia is about, we will make a general review about what its symptoms, causes, treatments, etc.

Symptoms of trypophobia

In cases of extreme trypophobia even photos of bubbles can cause fear.

People who suffer from this phobia, even if they have not named it, still know well what makes them uncomfortable, which generates deep fear and discomfort. For this reason, so that this repulsion towards repetitive patterns of grouped geometric figures can really be considered, especially in small holes; As trypophobia, it is necessary that you meet the following conditions of what a phobia implies :

  • It is an irrational fear , persistent over time. That appears with the presence of the stimulus, or its anticipation, generating great discomfort, in the case of trypophobia, the observation of these characteristic geometric patterns.
  • The response that the stimulus provokes is disproportionate , generating symptoms of anxiety and of wanting irremediably to flee from the situation, causing anguish and deep discomfort.
  • These symptoms usually interfere with daily life , affecting activities such as work, social relationships, studies and routine activities.
  • We try to avoid at all costs situations in which the stimulus may be present, through a perceived feeling of discomfort and anxiety.

These conditions that we have detailed are those that would be expected in a person suffering from trypophobia . In these associated symptoms you can also experience tingling, itching or itching in the body, and even nausea at the presence or thought of the stimulus.

 Causes of trypophobia

Many of the phobias that we already know, such as those related to fear of situations such as heights (acrophobia), open spaces (agoraphobia), or fear of closed spaces (claustrophobia). They have their origin in learned cultural fears. However, trypophobia is not about this kind of fear. This is what has been proven through the first scientific research that has been done about this phobia .

Research on this is limited. Its main researchers Arnold Wilkins and Geoff Cole, from the Brain Science Center, the British University of Essex, in Colchester, indicate that this phobia is certainly little studied, and is more widespread in the population than could be believed at first. They indicate that its cause could be in an evolutionary visual function in humans , which was developed in relation to the presence of some poisonous animals. This would lead to the explanation of a phobia, which is based, like others, on a learned cultural component.

As we well know, some of the most poisonous and deadly animals that exist, such as: some spiders, scorpions and the king cobra have these well-marked patterns on the surface of their skin. So it is understood that this characteristic fear is something evolutionary . Taking into account that it would be part of our development for survival, to stay away from these types of animals that can be lethal.

This fear acquired thanks to our evolutionary development, at the time, would help human beings to flee from these types of animals with which they were used to meeting. Although the vast majority of people who have this phobia have not needed to go through an experience of meeting any of these animals, fear has been stamped by something irrational , such as the visual aspect of this agglomeration of holes that is associated with the dangerous and deadly.

Trypophobia treatments

Fortunately, there are several ways to tackle this problem. People who suffer from trypophobia can overcome this irrational fear that generates so much anguish, and in many cases even prevents them from carrying out their basic activities of daily life. Those who suffer from this phobia, in any case, should go to a specialized professional (clinical psychologist), so that after the evaluation and diagnosis they prepare a treatment that is best adapted to the person and problem in particular.

You may also be interested in:   Stress

These are some of the most effective treatments with the best results obtained to reduce the symptoms caused by trypophobia :

Exposure therapy

Anyone who has a diagnosis of trypophobia, whether it is more or less severe, can have their discomfort significantly reduced by taking exposure therapy. This therapy, in the case of trypophobia, consists of exposing oneself to trypophobic images , which comply with the characteristics of what causes the discomfort.

This exposure is usually effective for most phobias. It can be applied gradually, increasing the intensity of the stimulus , for example, starting from what causes the least anxiety, to what causes the most intense anxiety. It is important that at all times the person suffering from trypophobia is accompanied by the mental health professional in charge of their case.

In order to carry out this type of therapy , the person who is going to expose themselves to their fears must agree and want to do so , if not, they will have to go to another type of therapy. You cannot, in any case, force the person to perform this therapy.

Systematic desensitization therapy

It is a type of therapy used in the cognitive behavioral approach that is also usually effective for cases of phobia. It is less intrusive than exposure therapy and requires more time, effort, and commitment on the part of the person with trypophobia.

It is a negotiation between the psychotherapist and the patient to see how the fear is going to work. Usually, through imagination, the psychotherapist will introduce his patient to his fears, in a gentle and gradual way, noting the frequency and intensity of his symptoms. Session after session it takes a step further, until the intensity of the symptoms is reduced.

Finally, this therapy concludes with the exposure of the patient to the stimulus that caused the most anxiety. Already being able to face it without triggering his anxiety and anguish.


This type of treatment, pharmacological, has been shown to be less effective than those focused on therapy . The therapies that we have seen previously work quite well with all types of phobia and have been used for decades, so they are already established as the best solution to address a phobia.

However, drug treatment serves to superficially reduce the symptoms produced by anxiety. They are especially useful for social phobia and agoraphobia . The medications that are usually administered are anxiolytics and antidepressants.

Pharmacological treatment is used, especially when the phobia is tremendously distressing in the day-to-day life of the person who suffers from it. When symptoms are uncontrollable and significantly interfere with your daily life. For cases in which the symptoms do not appear with such intensity frequently, psychological therapy is recommended and some methods that can help control anxiety, such as meditation or yoga.

Types of trypophobia

Although, as we have said previously, this phobia is not described in the diagnostic manual for mental disorders, researchers have determined two types of trypophobia, by checking how it was experienced by each of the people who suffered from trypophobia:

Extreme trypophobia

It is considered as extreme trypophobia when the person suffering from said phobia has a low tolerance to the repetitive patterns of this agglomeration of geometric figures. In this case, the person’s life is seriously affected , since the presence of this type of stimulus generates a high anxiety that can seriously deteriorate their health. It is something that must be dealt with as soon as possible since on a recurring basis you end up displaying these types of patterns and images that cause you discomfort anywhere.

Trypophobia on the skin

This type of trypophobia is more associated with specific stimuli such as those produced by the skin . This irrational fear is similar to that of dermatopathophobia, which is a frequent concern that generates high peaks of anxiety before eruptions and conditions that may appear on the skin.

In this case of trypophobia, the affected person is especially aware of the stimulation of the skin, which is why it generates fear to see these repetitive patterns in any type of skin.

Final conclusions on trypophobia

Whether seeing a beehive, sponge, microphone holes, skin pores, etc. Any vision of a porous canvas with holes, and repetitive geometric figures represents a great threat to the person suffering from trypophobia. Although it is something irrational and incomprehensible, this fear occurs as a defensive system evolved by humans as a survival. Thus responding to an evolutionary rejection .

As we have verified, this type of phobia, although it is little known, occurs in thousands of people around the world. If you think you suffer from this type of phobia, do not hesitate to treat it as soon as possible, since the anxiety caused by these stimuli can increase . The effectiveness and time of the treatment depends on each case, however the more it has become chronic, the more expensive the treatment is.

Anxiety and anguish is usually the usual response to this type of stimulus that we have described, and although drug treatment can alleviate these symptoms in some way, the problem will continue its course until it has been treated through psychological therapy.

Depending on each person, each case of trypophobia may be different , what measures the severity of fear is the frequency and intensity that occurs when the stimulus is feared. Not all cases are the same and that is why eachtherapy must be adapted to the needs and possibilities of each person in question.


Website | + posts

Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.