Trypophobia: Definition, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

In simple terms, it can be defined as the fear of having too many holes.

Trypophobia patients have an uncontrolled reaction to certain types of holes. The reactions to trypophobia vary from person to person.

Some people give an uncontrolled response to specific types of hole patterns.

A visualization of the hole pattern from a certain distance can also trigger distinctive anxious responses from a trypophobic.

From a psychological point of view, a phobia is an anxiety disorder that is believed to arise due to learned danger or innate evolutionary mechanisms, such as fear of snakes , fear of spiders, or fear of dogs.

In other words, there is a real threat, either general or specific. In people who suffer from trypophobia, there is no exact threat.

The feared objects have very little in common with each other. The dreaded set of holes is over configuration, causing visual discomfort and headache.

Causes of trypophobia

Trypophobia is another little-studied phobia but because it is an uncontrollable fear, some of its causes have been established according to the common causes of phobias.

Most people are often unaware of having the phobia or possibly it is latent.

But at a certain point you can develop a phobia of holes when faced with a direct stimulus. Trypophobics associate holes with some kind of danger.

Holes not only in images, but also in meat, skin, vegetables and fruits, sponges, honeycombs, wood, among others.

This exposure to the holes can cause a panic attack. For some others, the mere mention of “small holes” is enough to cause shivers and chills.

Among the causes we can list the following:

  1. Trypophobia can be the result of bad experiences in the past. A deep-seated emotional problem, or an object associated with childhood that triggers traumatic memories associated with the holes.
  2. Genetic predisposition, family relationships, or any disastrous life event can also cause trypophobia.
  3. The holes cause images that can also be found with dangerous animals (such as certain reptiles) that could cause serious damage, it is a primitive part of the brain that associates the images we see with something dangerous.


Symptoms exhibited by tripofóbicos differ with individuals.

Reported symptoms include the following:

  • They feel tight on the skin.
  • They have chills, spasms, and seizures.
  • They feel an itch on their skin.
  • They feel physically ill.
  • They develop an uncontrollable disgust at these images.
  • They have thoughts of falling into holes and that most trigger panic attacks.
  • They have dizziness, vomiting, and nausea.
  • They have a lack of coordination.
  • You have feelings of nervousness, restlessness, and anxiety.
  • They exhibit uncontrollable anger.

Diagnosis of trypophobia

Because not much is known about the origin and causes of trypophobia, diagnostic tests have not yet been developed to treat this condition.

Also, this type of phobia is not classified as a psychiatric illness in the Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association.

There are no specific diagnostic tests to determine the trypophobia, as you can see, but you can take steps to determine the source and depth of the phobia.

However, if the images or thoughts of holes profoundly affect patients’ daily activities and work performance, medical consultation is advised to regain control of this fear.


Usually the best approach to treating trypophobia is to face the fear of holes.

Being an unexplored science, trypophobia has not been fully investigated, but it is closely related to most phobias, panic attacks, and anxiety attacks , and therefore the same treatment methods can be employed.

Since the condition has something to do with the way the brain perceives an object, the cure and treatment of trypophobia focuses on therapeutic methods. These include the following:

Behavioral therapy : the patient must undergo a series of treatment sessions with the aim of managing to control his undesirable behavior in front of the feared objects.

The goal of behavioral therapy is to help the patient adapt to such a condition, especially during moments of crisis, especially when the patient is exposed to a group of small orifices.

Cognitive therapy : the goal of cognitive therapy is to change the patient’s perception of destructive issues. The patient must learn to isolate real thoughts from unreal ones. In order for the patient to easily recover from the phobia, he must actively participate in the cognitive therapy session.

Combination therapy : This approach is a combination of behavioral and cognitive therapy. The patient can learn different ways of dealing with fear and could live his life normally even if he is faced with the object of his fears.

Exposure Therapy – This is one of the most commonly used treatment approaches for Trypophobia. In this method, you must expose the patient to the feared objects over and over again. Over time, the fear would decrease significantly.

Flood: In this approach, the patient is immersed in a non-debilitating stimulus until such time as the adverse reaction to the feared object is extinguished. The goal here is to desensitize the trypophobia. Relaxation therapy is used in conjunction with floods to effectively achieve the desired result.

Modeling: This type of therapy includes both trypophobic and not. The patient suffering from trypophobia should observe a person who does not have trypophobia exposed to a group of holes. The patient will realize that exposure to such feared objects will not actually cause any harm.

This is one way to approach the phobia in a non-threatening way.

Neuro-linguistic programming: with this type of therapy, the patient will be exposed to a feared object and can be reprogrammed. After a while, patients will be able to mitigate or somehow lessen their fear.

Hypnosis techniques and group counseling can be very effective in treating trypophobia.