Trypophobia Triggers, Causes, Treatment, and More

Trypophobia: Triggers, Causes, Treatment, and More

Trypophobia: Triggers, Causes, Treatment, and More

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What is trypophobia?

Trypophobia is defined as an irrational dread or abhorrence of spaces that are packed together very densely. The term is a combination of the Greek words “trypa,” which means “punching or drilling holes,” and “phobia,” which means “fear.” It was initially introduced on a web forum in the year 2005. (fear or aversion).

People who suffer from this phobia frequently experience feelings of nausea, disgust, and misery when they stare at surfaces that include a pattern or cluster of small holes that are grouped closely together.

Trypophobia is not yet officially recognised as a distinct phobia by the scientific community. The number of studies that look into this phobia is still quite small, and the research that has been done so far has not reached a decision regarding whether or not trypophobia could be considered a distinct mental health issue.

In spite of this, there are a plethora of anecdotal accounts out there of people who suffer from trypophobia.

Continue reading to gain a deeper understanding of the phobia of holes, including its potential triggers, causes, and ways to seek assistance when it leads to serious suffering.

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What causes it to happen?

The fear of trypophobia is mostly an optical one. When you look at the following things, you may have feelings of anxiety, disgust, and discomfort if you have this phobia:

lotus seed pods



breads dotted with coral seeds

Lesions or scabs on the skin that look like Swiss cheese aluminium metal foam

pomegranates \ssponges

pebbled or gravelled roads

bubbles \scondensation

a cantaloupe containing a group of eyes

Animals that have spots on their skin or fur, such as leopards, Dalmatians, or poison dart frogs, can likewise elicit feelings of disgust and terror in people.

Some persons who have a fear of holes simply have a phobia of surfaces that have holes that are of an irregular shape. When they stare at surfaces with holes of the same size, like those in a showerhead or on a fabric patterned with polka dots, they might not experience the same level of discomfort as when they look at surfaces without holes.

It’s possible that some people will find all of the closely packed holes to be unpleasant and disturbing.

What signs and symptoms are there?

If you have trypophobia, you will most likely experience feelings of revulsion and discomfort when looking at an object or surface that has small clusters of holes or shapes that resemble holes. These sensations may be triggered by the thought of being poked or prodded by the holes.

The majority of people who suffer from trypophobia, according to study by 2018Reliable Source, report disgust as their primary symptom, rather than fear. This is contrary to the common perception that phobias are associated with feelings of anxiety.

When you think about something that has this appearance, you might also start to feel repulsed, uncomfortable, or anxious. For example, if your partner starts telling you how much they love strawberries and you start to visualise the fruit, you might start to feel repulsed, uncomfortable, or anxious.

The following are some examples of specific symptoms:

shivering, goosebumps, or the feeling that your skin is crawling gauging or nausea sweating quick heartbeat dizziness or lightheadedness or lightheadedness

a general feeling of discomfort or misery a strong want to get away from the picture or object feelings of panic or an attack of panic shaking or trembling

Trypophobia stems from what, exactly?

There isn’t enough evidence in the scientific community to establish definitively what triggers trypophobia, however, there are a few hypotheses to consider.

This phobia of closely-packed holes may have developed as an outgrowth of a biological fear of poisonous or otherwise deadly critters, according to the theory of certain qualified professionals.

The photos that created an anxious response in persons who have trypophobia were evaluated by researchers, and they found that high contrast colours in a certain graphic arrangement likely to induce anxiety, disgust, and other symptoms.

They also discovered that photos of certain extremely deadly animals, such as the king cobra, the deathstalker scorpion, and the blue-ringed octopus, have certain spectral features in common with the trypophobic images. Spectral characteristics are the tiny aspects of an image, such as contrast and spatial frequency, that have the potential to influence how your eyes and brain take in the information.

Therefore, it is possible that the fear of holes is less of dread of holes and more of an unconscious connection between innocent objects (such as lotus seed pods) with feared animals (such as a blue-ringed octopus) because they have certain spectral properties.

In other words, your natural ability to recognise dangers in your surroundings may have contributed to the development of your trypophobia.

The fact that many people who have trypophobia also have a strong aversion to scabs, pockmarks, or other patterns of rashes and skin markings has led some experts to link this phobia to another evolutionary response: the drive to avoid germs or contagious skin conditions or illnesses. Trypophobia refers to the fear of trying something new.

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Other authorities aren’t as confident about it.

Researchers conducted a study in 2017 with 94 preschoolers, who normally do not have the same level of fear of snakes and spiders as older children and adults. In this study, preschoolers were shown various sets of photos, including the following:

photos of trypophobia that feature little holes as well as images and line drawings of poisonous creatures as well as images and line drawings of animals that are not deadly

According to the findings, children who experienced distress when looking at trypophobic images also experienced distress when looking at colour images of venomous animals, but not when looking at line drawings of the same animals. This contrasted with the children who did not experience distress when looking at the line drawings of the same animals.

The authors of the study feel that these findings provide support for the hypothesis that trypophobia is related exclusively to the distinctive spectral properties that are shared by particular animals and clusters or patterns of holes, and not to an unconscious dread of harmful species. They do, however, point out that there is a need for additional research looking into the fear of holes.

Exist any potential dangers or hazards?

Due to the fact that the study on trypophobia is still in its preliminary phases, specialists do not yet know which elements directly enhance the likelihood of an individual having a fear of holes.

Having said that, it is not uncommon for an unpleasant or upsetting experience with the object of a phobia to be the trigger for the development of a phobia.

It is possible that your aversion to trypophobia developed after an experience with a poisonous snake, exposure to an infectious skin condition, or the activation of another trypophobia trigger. These possibilities are based on the potential causes of trypophobia.

One study from 2017

Trypanophobia has been determined to possibly be linked to both major depressive disorder and generalised anxiety disorder, according to Reliable Source (GAD). The authors of the study conducted a survey with 195 adult members of a support group for those who are afraid of trypophobia and discovered that:

19% of the participants had been diagnosed with serious depression, while an additional 8.7% of the individuals thought they might be suffering from major depression.

17.4 percent of the individuals had been diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder, and an additional 11.8 percent were concerned that they might have the disorder.

A significant number of participants disclosed other illnesses related to their mental health, including social anxiety (8.2 percent) and panic disorder (6.2 percent)

Research conducted in 2016 discovered a connection between social anxiety and trypophobia. This suggests that the fear of holes, or trypophobia, could actually be a fear of eyeballs, or the human gaze, for individuals who suffer from social anxiety. The experience of seeing clusters of holes can be unsettling and uncomfortable since it can give the impression that there are numerous sets of eyes staring back at you.

If there is a history of anxiety disorders or phobias, in particular, in your family, you have a significantly increased risk of acquiring any kind of phobia yourself.

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Trypophobia Triggers, Causes, Treatment, and More

How exactly is it identified?

Phobias, such as a fear of holes, can only be diagnosed by trained practitioners in mental health. Trypophobia is not a recognised mental disorder, thus a therapist won’t be able to identify the condition for you properly.

In spite of this, they are able to identify situations in which the discovery of clusters of holes results in a significant amount of emotional anguish and provide direction and assistance in overcoming this fear. They may provide a diagnosis of specific phobia that is more widespread in nature.

In addition, by asking you questions regarding the following topics, a therapist can assist in the diagnosis of any further mental health symptoms that you may be experiencing, such as signs of anxiety problems or depression:

the signs and symptoms that you are encountering

the circumstances that give rise to them, as well as the impact they have on your daily life

Find out more about the processes involved in therapy.

How is it dealt with medically?

The assistance of a mental health expert can go a long way toward assisting in the reduction of symptoms associated with trypophobia.

The following are examples of possible therapeutic approaches:


A number of different types of therapy, including as exposure therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), can be helpful in treating phobias, including the following:

Therapy based on exposure. This method provides you with the opportunity to start confronting your fear in the secure setting of therapy, which enables you to learn, with the assistance of a therapist, how to change your response to the thing or circumstance that is generating your anxiety. Exposure treatment is the method that is widely agreed upon as being the most successful in treating phobias.

CBT. This approach provides strategies that can help identify unpleasant thoughts and feelings, confront them, and reframe them into more positive ways of thinking. You can learn to control overwhelming emotions, including feelings of worry and terror, with the use of strategies from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).


There is no drug that treats symptoms of trypophobia in a specific manner; nevertheless, a psychiatrist or another prescribing practitioner may offer medication for you if you suffer the following:

In certain circumstances, one may have intense feelings of worry or panic.

Anxiety that is severe enough to interfere with your normal activities or to prevent you from making progress in therapy symptoms that do not improve with therapy alone

Depending on the exact phobia, possible medication solutions include:

benzodiazepines \sbeta-blockers \santidepressants \sbuspirone

Acquaint yourself with the various treatments available for anxiety.

Alternate modes of operation

Your therapist may also suggest various methods to help you manage your anxiety and emotional distress in order to better serve you. These might include the following:

Various methods of relaxation, such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing are included here.

spending time in relaxing locations such as nature and other settings

Techniques such as attentive breathing, observation, and listening, along with other mindfulness-based stress reduction methods

making time for one’s interests and activities that provide enjoyment

Even though taking care of your physical health might not immediately address your phobia, practising good self-care can go a long way toward making you feel more in control of your ability to manage anxiety and other symptoms.

Here are some pointers that might be useful:

Aim to get between seven and eight hours of sleep every single night.

Eat a well-balanced diet and try to avoid foods that may bring on anxious feelings.

If you are able to, engage in regular physical activity; research has shown that exercise can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and sadness.

Caffeine can make anxiety symptoms worse, so consuming too much of it is not recommended, especially if you are sensitive to its effects.

Make some time to chat about how you’re feeling with close friends and relatives.

Find a support group where you can talk to other individuals who are experiencing the same symptoms as you are.


Even while mental health professionals have not yet classified a fear of holes as an official phobia, this does not mean that the sensations you experience are not genuine.

Talking to a mental health professional is a useful next step to take if your symptoms are causing you to experience emotional discomfort and are having an effect on your day-to-day life. They will be able to guide you through the process of identifying potential triggers, reasons, and useful coping mechanisms for anxiety, disgust, and other unwelcome feelings associated with trypophobia.

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