The mysophobia is the pathological fear of dirt, pollution and germs. This phobia, like all the others, can seriously disrupt your life, but the good news is that it has a cure.

If you suffer from this phobia, you are terrified of getting sick from a virus or bacteria, permanently washing your hands, or bathing many times a day to get rid of dirt and germs.

Symptoms, causes and treatments of Misophobia

Many people with a bad phobia also wear gloves before touching things, permanently disinfect the kitchen and bathroom, and some even avoid leaving their homes for fear of germs.

Experts believe that bad phobia is related to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), because in bad phobia behaviors (washing hands, showering, permanently disinfecting everything) occur as a result of pathological fear.

In other words, if you suffer from this phobia you have obsessive thoughts about dirt, pollution and germs, and then you act on the Consequence, having compulsive behaviors, which you cannot avoid.

The difference between people overly concerned about pollution and people with a pollution phobia is the ability to tolerate uncertainty.

For example, if you climb the subway and take the railing, maybe there would be germs on the surface, which would be transferred to your hands. It is a doubt, an uncertainty, because you do not know if there are really dangerous germs there. But you can live with it. You get over it, and as soon as you get home, you wash your hands and go.

But a person with a bad phobia is not able to tolerate this uncertainty. The feeling of insecurity causes extreme anxiety and the need to do something about Respect, immediately. Then remove a sanitizing cloth from your pocket to clean the railing. Or directly, do not use the subway or other means of public transport.

Causes of this phobia

Although, like all phobias, there can be several causes, they usually start from a traumatic event (for example when we are children), or by imitating others.

For example if, as children, your father is obsessed with disinfection and cleaning.

This predisposition causes uncontrolled anxiety, and when we see any contagious disease on television, or on movies on this subject.

What symptoms do you have

People with this problem “in its mild form” are only nervous if they are seen in an unhealthy or contagious environment, such as in a hospital or public toilet.

Other people have more severe symptoms, such as sweating, rapid heartbeat, a desire to run away, weakness, dizziness, and they may even have panic attacks.

Many patients with bad phobia are aware that they have a problem, although not all act in the same way. Some minimize their symptoms or try to hide them, while others seek professional help immediately.

You probably have misophobia if:

  • The obsession with pollution and germs is invading your life and most of the things you do during the day have to do with your fear of germs.
  • If you have cleaning or disinfecting rituals that take more than an hour a day.
  • If these actions are the only ones that (momentarily) relieve your anxiety.
  • If you know that your fear is exaggerated but you can’t help but wash and clean everything over and over again.

If you have these symptoms, there is no doubt, what you should do is consult a professional immediately, because there are treatments that can help you control this obsession and lead a more normal life.

If you have a bad phobia, you fear contaminating yourself with other people’s germs, and you will probably avoid social situations such as work meetings, outings with friends, or family celebrations.

Or in the event that you attend such events, you will surely avoid physical contact or closeness to other people and wash your hands much more frequently than usual.

Over time, these behaviors can isolate you socially.

Your friends and family probably will not understand what is happening to you, they may think that you are harsh or even paranoid. Misophobia could then lead to social phobia or agoraphobia. In other words, you no longer want to leave the house or see anyone.

Treatment of misophobia

All specific phobias have treatments in common, the main ones being cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy.

Other treatments that can help include relaxation techniques and medications.

But it is important to note that before starting any type of treatment, the patient must be evaluated by a psychiatrist or psychotherapist , to reach a correct diagnosis and thus determine the appropriate treatment for each case.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

It is a type of psychotherapy in which the therapist tries to modify the patient’s behavior when faced with a stimulus; for example when you think you are exposing yourself to germs.

Cognitive behavioral therapy helps the patient to control his anxiety and to change the negative and irrational thoughts associated with his phobia, for other more positive and realistic thoughts.

In most cases, exposure therapy is also included as part of cognitive behavioral therapy.

Exposure therapy

As its name suggests, in this treatment the patient is exposed to the stimulus that causes his symptoms. Gradual exposure is usually used, that is, the treatment begins with short sessions and light stimuli and little by little the degree of exposure is increased.

Anxiety begins to diminish, because the dreaded consequences do not appear, and the body begins to “understand” that in reality there is no danger.

In exposure therapy, the support of the therapist is very important, who will guide the patient during this long journey, helping him to control his anxiety and to continue the treatment.

Relaxation techniques

All the techniques that help control anxiety, such as progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing techniques, yoga, and meditation can be helpful in alleviating the symptoms of bad phobia.

In this article you can learn various relaxation techniques.


Anti-anxiety medications also help control misophobia.

The dose and the period during which the patient can use this type of medication will be defined by the psychiatrist in conjunction with the psychotherapist, so that the medication does not prevent the patient from learning to naturally control their anxiety, which is what is sought with exposure therapy.

The important role of the family

Family members play a key role in treating the patient with misophobia, so as not to reinforce the disorder and help him advance.

For example , if a misophobic woman does not want to drink from a glass because she assumes that it is contaminated and her husband washes it, he is hurting the patient.

It is a difficult situation to bear in some cases, because the person with misophobia is very distressed and family members may give in.

However, the family can support the phobics to control their anxiety and overcome their fears. The people who excel more easily in these types of disorders are those who have good family support, according to experts.

Those who live alone or isolated will hardly find the right way out of their problem. So if someone in your family suffers from Misophobia, do not hesitate to accompany them in their consultations with health professionals.

If your family member still does not recognize that washing their hands 30 times a day is not normal, their role will be to calmly and affectionately point out each time they have the Opportunity, at some point they will realize their bad phobia and will probably ask for help.

As you can see, misophobia is a problem that can be overcome. Don’t hesitate to ask if you have symptoms. And if it is someone in your family, the attitude you take about it is also important.

Real cases of this problem

Did you know that germ phobia affects thousands of Spaniards? According to the president of the Association of Patients with OCD , 0.8% of the Spanish population suffers from OCD and of these, 50% suffer from a bad phobia.

Some of these people are able to wash their hands 40 times in 20 minutes and burn their clothes after just one use, if they think they could have been contaminated with some kind of germ.

Her misophobia affects everyone who lives with her. We must be very careful when entering the bathroom or bedroom, we must enter naked and leave clothes in specific places, so as not to ” spread germs throughout the house .”

Misophobes feel, think, and act by focusing primarily on their fear. His whole life revolves around eliminating germs.

They believe that what they do is never enough to prevent contagion or contamination.

His hands are damaged from using too much bleach, which he uses all the time, especially in the bathroom and kitchen. Her husband and children must be stripped and undressed when entering the house, because otherwise, she suffers great anguish. Its activity focuses on cleaning, rubbing and recomposition. They always have hours a day to complete disinfection, and they are never satisfied.

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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