Misophobia: Phobia of germs

Misophobia Phobia of germs

Misophobia or also called germophobia , bacillophobia or bacteriophobia, is the pathological fear of being dirty , contaminated and germs.

It goes hand in hand with obsessive-compulsive disorder, which produces specific behaviors aimed at reducing associated anxiety.


Those who suffer from Misophobia tend to wash their hands constantly and touch objects very, very carefully, often with gloves, without the sanitary conditions requiring it.

Their fear focuses on biological materials, body odors, and visible dirt.

The beginning of this phobia usually goes back to childhood, with learning to use the toilet.

It is also defined as a persistent, abnormal and unwarranted fear of germs, dirt or contamination.

It is often accompanied by incessant hand washing.

This name is used to describe a pathological fear of contact with dirt to avoid any contamination of any kind.

The subjects who suffer from this phobia, that is to say, the misophobics , elevate their hygienic precautions to the implausible. They come to wash their hands 40 times in 20 minutes, or throw away their clothes after using them. They prevent others, including their family, from approaching them, or vice versa for fear of being contaminated.

They take extreme precautions when approaching the kitchen and the bathroom, as if they were sacred places.

This phobia is linked to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder ( OCD ), an extreme behavior where the affected person bases his life on avoiding this contamination.

The disease becomes a chronic disease, since they feel that what they do in their favor is not enough to avoid contamination .

This disorder affects the entire family of the patient, because they are forced to follow certain rituals (such as scrupulously washing their hands at all times, or wearing special clothes or shoes free of “contamination” from the outside when entering the house ).

OCD is said to affect 0.8% of the population in Spain. Of those cases, half suffer from some type of pollution-related disorder. While sometimes those affected with the disease know clearly about their problem, in other cases they minimize their symptoms and even hide them.

Treatment is essential so that these people can live normally, and is based on the one hand on cognitive-behavioral therapy ( shock ) and on the other hand, it is also supported by medication.

And in the treatment, help and support of family members is essential:

They must understand that following the game of the misophobic and washing food a hundred times because they continue to believe that they are contaminated, it is not helping them, on the contrary they are supporting the phobia takes much more strength because the affected person can see it normal.

This phobia is also known as germophobia ( fear of germs ), bacillophobia, or bacteriophobia .


Those who suffer from this phobia , are afraid of being contaminated by a virus or bacteria, wash their hands very frequently, bathe many times a day to get rid of bacteria or microbes and all dirt, that would be the main symptom of this disease obsession for being clean when it is.

Some people with Misophobia also use gloves before going to touch things, they permanently disinfect different parts of the house, some even prefer to avoid leaving them by hiding from bacteria and germs .

People with mild misophilia probably only feel tense when they are in a polluted environment, such as a public toilet or hospital.

Others have stronger symptoms, such as tachycardia, weakness, dizziness, sweating, they can even have panic attacks if they feel very surrounded by germs without being able to control themselves.


Although the causes can be various, many phobias originate from a traumatic event that occurred in childhood. Other times the phobia can be acquired by  imitative behaviors .

For example, if when you were a child your mother or father was always obsessed with cleaning and disinfection, this may have inadvertently caused a phobia of germs, bacteria and dirt.

Sometimes, in people predisposed by their uncontrolled anxiety, Misophobia can appear as a result of reading or watching on TV a lot of news related to contagious diseases, or by watching movies whose plot revolves around these infection themes.


All phobias have treatment in common, among the main ones are cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy.

Some other treatments that can help patients with this phobia are relaxation techniques and drugs.

Although it is very important to emphasize that before any type of treatment, the person has to be evaluated by psychotherapists or psychiatrists in order to reach a correct diagnosis and in this way, specify the appropriate treatment for each of the cases.

Cognitive behavioral therapy: It is a kind of psychotherapy in which the therapist tries to change the actions and behaviors of the patient when faced with a stimulus; in the case of  misophobia , when you think you are exposing yourself to germs .

Exposure therapy: In this treatment the affected person is exposed to the stimulus produced by their symptoms. Gradual exposure is usually used, that is, treatment is started with short sessions and gentle stimuli and the degree of exposure is gradually increased.

Relaxation techniques: These are all those techniques that help control anxiety, such as progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing techniques, yoga and meditation can be useful to alleviate the symptoms of Misophobia .


We will list a series of processes that can make you overcome this phobia:

  • Phobias are very treatable and often require only a few sessions with a  professional  qualified mental health
  • The  therapy  cognitive behavioral, help people to rethink thoughts intrusive and phobic
  • The  desensitization, a process by which a person is exposed to slowly frightening stimulus, is also highly effective
  • Some doctors may prescribe  anti- anxiety medications  to help people cope with their fears during the treatment period or to help them function in public.
  • Some patients are cured with  hypnotherapy, often in just two or three sessions.
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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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