Trypophobia: Definition, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

It can be defined as the fear of having too many holes in simple terms.

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

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

Visualizing 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 have 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 danger.

Holes in images and meat, skin, vegetables and fruits, sponges, honeycombs, and wood.

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

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 triggers traumatic memories related to 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 severe damage; a primitive part of the brain associates the pictures we see with something difficult.


Symptoms exhibited by tripofóbicos differ among 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, which most trigger panic attacks.
  • They have dizziness, vomiting, and nausea.
  • They lack 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 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 a new science, trypophobia has not been thoroughly investigated. Still, 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 how the brain perceives an object, the cure, and treatment of trypophobia focus on therapeutic methods. These include the following:

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

Behavioral therapy aims 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 honest thoughts from unreal ones. For the patient to quickly 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 typically even if he is faced with the object of his worries.

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

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

Modeling: This type of therapy includes both trypophobic and not. The patient with 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 cause any harm.

This is one way to approach 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.