ⓘ Mysophobia


ⓘ Mysophobia

Mysophobia, also known as verminophobia, germophobia, germaphobia, bacillophobia and bacteriophobia, is a pathological fear of contamination and germs. The term was coined by William A. Hammond in 1879 when describing a case of obsessive–compulsive disorder exhibited in repeatedly washing ones hands. Mysophobia has long been related to compulsive hand washing. Names pertaining directly to the abnormal fear of dirt and filth include molysmophobia or molysomophobia, rhypophobia, and rupophobia, whereas the terms bacillophobia and bacteriophobia specifically refer to the fear of bacteria and microbes in general.

The term mysophobia comes from the Greek μύσος musos, "uncleanness" and φόβος phobos, "fear".


1. Signs and symptoms

People who suffer from mysophobia usually display signs including:

  • a refusal to share personal items
  • an excessive effort dedicated to cleaning and sanitizing ones environment
  • a fear of physical contact, especially with strangers
  • excessive hand washing
  • an avoidance of locations that may contain a high volume of germs
  • a fear of becoming ill

Mysophobia greatly affects the everyday life of individuals and can range in severity of symptoms from difficult breathing, excessive perspiration, increased heart rate, and states of panic when exposed to germ-enhanced conditions.


2. Cause

There are many underlying factors and reasons that a person may develop mysophobia, such as anxiety, depression, or a traumatic situation. Developing in a culture where hygiene is heavily integrated into society, can also be a main driving force for the development of mysophobia.