Home General Medicine Trypophobia : Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Diagnosis and Prevention

Trypophobia : Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Diagnosis and Prevention

Verified By Apollo Doctors August 8, 2022 8608 0


When a person experiences a strong physical and emotional reaction such as fear and disgust to any pattern with numerous holes it can indicate trypophobia. Honeycomb, sea sponge, and soap bubbles are some of the triggers of trypophobia. It is said that the bigger the cluster of holes, the more uncomfortable people are. Majority of people do not have a genuine fear of holes. Exposure treatment may be able to help you overcome your aversion to patterns of holes. 

This blog is a comprehensive guide to understanding trypophobia, its triggers, causes, symptoms, diagnoses, and treatment options.

What is trypophobia? 

Trypophobia is an aversion or repulsion to things with repeated patterns or clusters of holes, such as honeycombs and sponges. The pattern of holes disgusts people with trypophobia. They are not always afraid of holes. 

The word ‘trypophobia’ is coined from the Greek words, ‘trypta’ meaning holes and ‘phobos’ which means fear..

What are the symptoms of trypophobia? 

Trypophobia symptoms resemble those of a panic attack. A person may experience the following: 

  • Nausea 
  • Shaking 
  • Breathing problems 
  • A rapid heart rate 
  • Sweating 
  • Itching, goosebumps, or a crawling sensation on the skin 

Trypophobia sufferers may experience these feelings multiple times a week or even every day. The fear of holes can sometimes last a lifetime. 

What causes trypophobia? 

Experts are unsure as to why certain people experience trypophobia. The brain may link clusters of holes with danger, according to one idea. A pattern of little holes, for example, may be associated with the skin of a venomous snake or the eyes of a tarantula. Alternatively, the holes can also remind the person with trypophobia of skin problems or rashes. Another theory is that processing patterns with holes requires more energy and oxygen, resulting in distress. It’s also possible that it’s a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). 

When should one see a doctor for trypophobia?

If certain symptoms like a rapid heartbeat, sweating and nausea persist, it is recommended to visit a doctor immediately.

What are the risk factors associated with trypophobia? 

Women are more likely than men to experience trypophobia. It’s also a trait that runs in families. According to one study, roughly 25% of patients with trypophobia with a family history of this disorder. 

Some people who are repulsed of hole patterns also suffer from other mental illnesses, including:

How is trypophobia diagnosed and treated? 

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) does not classify trypophobia as an illness (DSM). This can be because the illness is often painful but not incapacitating. There are no clear diagnostic criteria for it because it isn’t recognized as a disorder. There is, however, an online  trypophobia test. An individual can find out if they are suffering from this phobia with the online trypophobia test. 

The trypophobia test consists of the following steps: 

  • For one to eight seconds, a variety of images are displayed. Patterns or clusters of holes can be found in some of the photos, while others do not. 
  • The test asks the person taking the test to estimate the length of time spent looking at each image. 
  • At the end of the test, it compares the estimates for viewing trypophobic and neutral images (those without holes) and offers a ratio. 
  • Trypophobia is indicated by a ratio greater than two. It is recommended to discuss the test results and negative reactions to patterns with holes with a mental health specialist, such as a psychologist. 

If trypophobia makes it difficult for a person to participate in some activities or enjoy life, exposure therapy may help. This treatment gradually exposes the patient to trypophobia triggers while assisting them in controlling their reactions. As many as nine out of ten people can overcome phobias with this sort of psychotherapy

A healthcare provider can also complete the following during exposure therapy: 

  • Before and during exposures, the individual learns breathing and relaxation techniques. 
  • While assisting the patient in managing the response, the healthcare provider may display images or videos of clusters or patterns of holes. 
  • Expands the exposure gradually until the individual suffering from trypophobia holds or touches objects with a holey pattern, such as a sponge. 

Cognitive-behavioural treatment (CBT) is another option. This therapy aids in the modification of perceptions and reactions to situations that cause trypophobia. Anti-anxiety drugs aren’t usually effective for those suffering from certain phobias. However, a healthcare provider may give anti-anxiety medication for short-term relief if the patient is aware of the triggers that can cause a reaction. 

How can trypophobia be prevented?

When a patient suffering from acute trypophobia symptoms, using breathing and relaxation techniques helps in minimizing the duration, frequency, and intensity of the symptoms. Deep breathing, for example, helps in controlling the heart rate causing the body to relax, reducing anxiety, and minimizing the feeling of dread.

Here’s how one can practice deep breathing:

  • For a count of four, slowly inhale through your nose.
  • For a count of four, softly exhale through your nose.
  • The patient should continue to breathe in this manner for one to five minutes.


Trypophobia is the dislike or fear of a hole pattern. Revulsion can be triggered by seeing clusters of holes in foods, flowers, and items like sponges. Trypophobia is becoming more well recognized as an anxiety disorder that can harm one’s quality of life. If a patient suspects of suffering from trypophobia, talk to a doctor immediately. If necessary, a healthcare provider can refer to a mental health specialist who can help the patient overcome this problem with exposure treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the triggers of trypophobia?

The following are the triggers of trypophobia:

  • A loaf of bread with seeds
  • A block or slice of cheese with holes
  • Fruits with seeds, including strawberries, raspberries, papaya, and kiwis
  • Sunflowers and lotus seed pods
  • Snakes, lizards, and frogs
  • Soles of a shoe
  • Household items such as sponges

Can a patient prevent this disorder?

Doctors may recommend relaxation techniques such as meditation, mindfulness, or visualizing soothing images to help avoid the symptoms of trypophobia.

Is this disorder fatal?

Trypophobia is not fatal but can hinder an individual’s daily activities if not managed. If a person is presenting symptoms of this disorder it is advisable to seek medical advice at the earliest.

Verified By Apollo Doctors
At Apollo, we believe that easily accessible, reliable health information can make managing health conditions an empowering experience. AskApollo Online Health Library team consists of medical experts who create curated peer-reviewed medical content that is regularly updated and is easy-to-understand.

Quick Appointment



Book ProHealth Book Appointment
Request A Call Back X