Everything You Should Know About Trypophobia

What’s trypophobia?

Trypophobia refers to a fear of or disgust at tightly-packed holes. It is a fear or disgust of small holes that are close together. This phobia could be triggered by the head of a lotus flower pod or the body a strawberry.

officially, the phobia is not recognized. There are not many studies on trypophobia. The research is divided on whether it should be recognized as an official condition.


We don’t know much about trypophobia. Common triggers are:

  • lotus seed pods
  • Honeycombs
  • strawberries
  • coral
  • aluminum metal foam
  • pomegranates
  • bubbles
  • condensation
  • Cantaloupe
  • A group of eyes

Trypophobia can be triggered by animals, such as insects, amphibians and mammals.


A person may experience symptoms if they see an object that has small holes in it or forms that look like holes.

People with trypophobia feel disgusted or afraid when they see a group of holes. Some symptoms are:

  • Goosebumps
  • Feeling repulsed
  • Feeling uncomfortable
  • Visual discomfort, such as eye strain, distortions, and illusions, can occur.
  • distress
  • feeling your skin crawl
  • Panic attacks
  • It is important to sweat
  • nausea
  • Body shakes

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What is the research saying?

Researchers aren’t sure whether trypophobia should be considered a real fear. One of the first studiesTrusted Source on trypophobia, published in 2013, suggested that the phobia may be an extension of a biological fear of harmful things. Researchers found that high-contrast colors were associated with a particular graphic arrangement, which was responsible for the triggering of symptoms. The researchers believe that trypophobia affected people subconsciously associate harmless objects, such as lotus seed pods with dangerous animals like the blue-ringed Octopus.

A studyTrusted Source published in April 2017 disputes these findings. To determine whether fear at seeing small holes in an image is due to a fear of dangerous animals, researchers surveyed pre-schoolers. The results showed that trypophobia is not a result of an unconscious fear of venomous animals. The fear is instead triggered by the creature’s appearance.

American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) does not recognize trypophobia. To fully understand trypophobia and its causes, more research is required.

Risk factors

We don’t know much about the risk factors associated with trypophobia. A 2017 studyTrusted Source found that trypophobia may be linked to major depressive disorder (MDD) and generalized anxiety disorder. Researchers found that people suffering from trypophobia are more likely to suffer from major depressive disorder (GAD) than those with GAD. Another study published in 2016 also noted a link between social anxiety and trypophobia.

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Your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms to diagnose a fear. Your medical, psychiatric and social history will be taken. To aid in diagnosis, they may refer to the DSM-5. Because trypophobia is not recognized by mental and medical health associations, it is not considered a diagnosisable condition.


There are different ways a phobia can be treated. Exposure therapy is the most effective treatment. Exposure therapy, a form of psychotherapy, focuses on changing how you react to the situation or object that is triggering your fear.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is another common treatment for phobias. CBT is a combination of exposure therapy and other techniques that can help you manage anxiety and prevent your thoughts from becoming overwhelming.

You can also try these other treatment options to help manage your fear:

  • general talk therapy with a counselor or psychiatrist
  • Beta-blockers and other sedatives can be used to reduce anxiety and panic symptoms.
  • Deep breathing and yoga are two of the many relaxation techniques that you can use to relax.
  • To manage anxiety, physical activity and mental stimulation are key.
  • mindful breathing, observation, listening, and other mindful strategies to help cope with stress

Although medications have been used to treat other anxiety disorders, there is not much information about their effectiveness in treating trypophobia.

It could also be useful to:

  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat a balanced, healthy diet
  • Avoid caffeine and other substances which can worsen anxiety
  • Reach out to family and friends to find support groups for those who are dealing with similar issues.
  • Face fearful situations head-on as often as you can

The duration of trypophobia

It will vary from one person to another. Some people live with anxiety and fear their entire lives. Others can manage and control their condition.

Associations with Dangerous Animals

Another theory is that clustered holes may look similar to the skin and patterns of venomous animal skin. These patterns may be associated with unconscious fears.

This idea is supported by research. A 2013 study looked at how people with trypophobia respond to certain stimuli in comparison to those without the condition.3 When viewing a honeycomb (a common trypophobic object), people who don’t have trypophobia immediately think of things such as honey or bees.

Researchers believe that trypophobia sufferers may have subconsciously equated the sight of honeycombs with dangerous organisms, such as rattlesnakes. Although they may not be aware of it, this association could cause them to feel fear or disgust.

Associations with Infectious Pathogens

In 2017, a 2017 study showed that participants were more likely to associate holes with skin-transmitted disease. Study participants reported feelings of skin-itching and skin-crawling when viewing such patterns.7

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Fear of possible threats or disgust is an adaptive evolutionary response. These feelings can help us avoid danger in many cases. Researchers believe that trypophobia may be an exaggerated and overgeneralized form of the normally adaptive response.

A Response to Visual Characteristics

Research suggests that people feel more discomfort from the visual qualities of the patterns than the actual pattern itself.

Psychological Reports published a study that found that people feel discomfort when they see trypophobic patterns. This suggests that trypophobia may be a natural reaction to certain visual stimuli.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) involves working with a therapist to change the underlying thoughts and behaviors that might contribute to trypophobia. It might include discussing unrealistic thoughts and replacing them with more realistic ones. Then, it could be about making behavioral changes. CBT may also include gradual exposure to feared situations or things to decrease one’s reactions.

Phobia symptoms can be caused by the belief that the fear object is inherently dangerous or threatening. When they confront the fear object, this can lead to automatic negative thoughts.

Exposure therapy is a form of CBT that involves gradually exposing someone to their fear object in the hope that they will experience less fear. This is done slowly. This may involve imagining the fear object and then looking at images of it. Finally, the person might be able to touch or be near the source of their anxiety.

A person suffering from trypophobia may begin by closing his eyes and visualizing a seed pod or honeycomb. They will keep going until their symptoms subside. He will be able to visualize the object and not respond. Then he will move on to the next step. This often involves looking at an object that triggers symptoms.

Relaxation Techniques

Different relaxation strategies can also be useful for reducing feelings of disgust, fear, or anxiety. These strategies include deep breathing, visualization, and progressive muscle relaxation.

Visualization is the act of picturing peaceful images or situations. If they see tiny holes, a person suffering from trypophobia might visualize a beautiful sunset or field of flowers.

Sometimes, a simple distraction can be helpful in coping. You can simply turn your attention away from anything that might trigger a trypophobic reaction.


Anti-depressant or antianxiety drugs may sometimes be prescribed, particularly ifthe individual also experiences depression or anxiety.These may include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), benzodiazepines,orbeta-blockers. These medications may be used alone, but they are often used in conjunction with another treatment approach such as CBT or other types of psychotherapy.

Why It happens?

Another 2017 study suggests that trypophobia is an evolutionary response to alert a person to the presence of parasites or other infectious diseases.

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According to the researchers, trypophobia sufferers may perceive these cluster images as cues for ectoparasites (parasites such as fleas that live outside the host) or skin-transmitted pathogens. These are droplets that can be spread through coughs and sneezes.

Researchers have noted that children experienced discomfort when they were presented with trypophobic stimuli. However, they believe that this discomfort was not due to their subconscious association with venomous animal venom but rather to the cluster pattern.

Society and culture

The term attemptpophobia was first coined in 2005 by an anonymous participant to an online forum. The term is derived from two Greek words: trupa, trypa (meaning “hole”) and phobos phobos (meaning “fear”). Self-identified trypophobics can create groups on social media sites like Instagram and Facebook to discuss and share images that trigger the reaction.

People with trypophobia are not aware of the existence of the condition. Many people don’t know what it is and feel isolated. Some people try to incite trypophobia by posting trypophobic images to social media. The most distressing images to induce trypophobia include clusters and holes (especially the lotus seedhead), which have been photo-shopped onto human skin. Cole and Wilkins stated that trypophobia is more disgusting if it’s on human skin. Jennifer Abbasi, writing in Popular Science, suggests that some of the negative reactions to these images may be due to emotional contagion.

2017 saw trypophobia come to media attention after American Horror Story featured a character with trypophobia and triedpophobia-inducing ads. Some people were upset by the imagery and criticised the show’s “insensitivity toward sufferers of trypophobia”. While there was concern that people might try to inflict trypophobia through increased media attention, others thought it could help people to understand the condition and encourage further research. Some users responded to the September 2019 release of Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro, which features three closely spaced camera lenses, with comments that it triggered their trypophobia.

Kathleen McAuliffe, writer and editor, suggested that trypophobia has not been extensively researched because researchers have not paid as much attention topics of disgust than other areas of research and because of the revulsion looking at the images could incite researchers


Although trypophobia is not officially recognized, it does exist. Researchers have discovered that trypophobia exists in at least one form. It can cause severe symptoms and affect a person’s daily life if they are exposed to triggers.

If you suspect you might have trypophobia, talk to your doctor or counselor. They will help you identify the root cause of your fear and how to manage it.

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