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Understanding Mysophobia: The Fear of Germs

Understanding Mysophobia: The Fear of Germs

Updated on Sep 13, 2022 | Published on Apr 15, 2022

Reviewed by Dr. Nereida Gonzalez-Berrios, MD , Certified Psychiatrist

Mysophobia - Meaning, Signs, Impact, Causes, and Treatment

Key Takeaways


  • Mysophobia is the irrational intense fear of germs, contamination, and falling sick because of them.
  • To counter the germs the individual regularly washes their hands and avoids situations where exposure may be high.
  • A person might show signs of an anxiety attack if they come in contact with germs.
  • Mysophobia may develop because of past traumatic events, OCD or family history.
  • Treatment options include Medications, Exposure therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Washing of hands, being wary of germs, and contamination are habits that have spiked drastically all over the world due to COVID-19. But when these ‘safe habits’ start to stop us from meeting with others and do not let us perform everyday tasks, it becomes a huge problem.

Mysophobia is what develops when these habits to keep us safe start interfering in our everyday life. A person with Mysophobia or commonly known as Germaphobia or the fear of germs constantly fears coming in contact with germs.

They fear falling ill by contracting some disease from other people or by coming in contact with a germ-ridden item.

You remember the famous character of Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory who can be seen as having Mysophobia. He is constantly washing his hands, taking multiple baths, hates people touching his food or him, and manages to never even touch Stuart. 

So let’s dig deeper into understanding what Sheldon and many of us who are trying to walk on the fine line between what consists of a healthy and unhealthy fear of germs.

What is Mysophobia 

SUMMARY
Mysophobia is a specific phobia in which the person fears contracting germs or getting contaminated. To avoid germs they regularly wash their hands. They avoid going to any place where the exposure to germs is high, like public places.

How many of us have walked away from a filthy public bathroom, not had a food item which was sneezed on by someone, or washed our hands thoroughly after touching something dirty. Pretty much every one of us has done that.

We are all scared of contracting germs, getting sick, and having a clearly unwell person touch our food. No one wants to get sick and no one wants to increase the risks of getting contaminated by germs.

But many of us are still able to function in our everyday lives without the fear of germs stopping us. 

So does that mean we all have Mysophobia?

No, we do not have Mysophobia at this stage, it is the next one that includes avoiding crowded places, and being unable to go to school or at work due to the fear of germs. 

It is the fear that puts a halt on our daily functioning, the one that stops us from engaging in activities that we would have liked to do because we fear getting contaminated and getting sick.

An individual with Mysophobia knows that the fear they are having is a little excessive but it is the inability to stop oneself from obsessing over it that truly causes the distress.

Mysophobia is a condition where the individual has a fear of germs and getting contaminated by the touch of others or by them touching foreign objects themselves. It is a pathological fear of uncleanliness, infection, and falling ill due to bacteria.

 When they are exposed to contaminated areas they are in visible discomfort, show signs of avoidance, are fearful of their surroundings, and may have an anxiety attack.

Individuals can be seen washing their hands multiple times, repeatedly cleaning and decontaminating their homes and workspace.

At times they avoid crowded places or public spaces, and in severe cases stepping out of the house itself becomes a nightmare. 

Mysophobia is also known as Germophobia or Germaphobia, Bacillophobia or Verminophobia by a few people. 


Signs of Mysophobia 

Differentiating between having Mysophobia and keeping oneself and their surroundings clean and healthy can be difficult.

But here are some of the signs and symptoms that one can spot in themselves or those around them easily.

It should be noted that engaging in these signs is extremely stressful and exhausting for the individual. They may at times not wish to engage in these activities.

But still, feel compelled to because the fear of germs and contamination is that high in them.

Mysophobia causes a great deal of distress to the person and leads to behavior that may be seen as deviant by most people.

It also causes dysfunction in the everyday lives of the people having Mysophobia and those around them.

If you have Mysophobia you might be showcasing these common behavior patterns in your everyday life:

  • Avoiding objects, places, or people that might contain germs
  • Regularly washing your hands 
  • Excessively cleaning and decontaminating your surroundings
  • Trouble sharing personal items with others
  • Avoid physical contact with people, especially strangers
  • Avoid being in the same space as that as a sick person
  • Avoid crowds, public spaces, and high contamination areas
  • Avoid animals especially strays

Now when an individual with Mysophobia is not able to avoid these situations they show clear physical signs of discomfort like:

  • Shallow and rapid breathing
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Excessive sweating 
  • Trembling or shaking of the body
  • Nausea
  • Chest pains
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

These physical signs and symptoms are similar to those experiencing an anxiety attack. So a person with Mysophobia will try their best to avoid things that cause them anxiety.

And to avoid that anxiety they will perform those behavioral patterns as much as they can. 


Impact of Mysophobia on a person’s life

It is not easy to manage Mysophobia and have a functioning life. It eventually gets too out of hand causing a whole deal of problems. 

The psychological impact of Mysophobia leads to additional mental health problems in the person.

These mental health problems further lead to discomfort and distress in their lives, some of them being: 

1. Recurrent anxiety attacks

Imagine having to worry about what you are touching and where you are doing regularly. Your mind is running non-stop about germs and contamination. It is bound to cause anxiety within you. 

Feelings of worry, tension, and fear are not desirable and people with Mysophobia have to deal with them constantly. 

These individuals are constantly worried about their health making them anxious. This leads to a higher risk of having recurrent anxiety attacks.

The physical signs of Mysophobia that we discussed earlier are caused due to the constant anxiety felt by them.

2. Develops into social phobia

Who wants to force themselves into situations that make you uncomfortable? No one.

Being scared every time you meet a stranger as to what diseases they might be carrying. Being afraid to touch doorknobs. Worrying about the kitchen conditions in a restaurant. 

These all can perfectly ruin your outing with friends and family. With all these feelings it is not a surprise that many people with Mysophobia have social phobia too. 

Social phobia is a mental condition that causes irrational anxiety in social settings. So add being fearful of the germs people carry and social settings, you get Mysophobia plus social phobia. 

3. Inability to engage in everyday life

Want to go outside, meet new people, explore new places, and maybe even own a pet. These all sound like everyday things that we wish to do. 

But imagine having anxiety doing each one of them. Imagine being uncomfortable and stressed while performing any of them. Yeah sounds bad, doesn’t it? 

Well, that’s the kind of life that many people with severe Mysophobia experience. They are unable to engage in everyday life activities leading to a lot of dysfunction in their lives. 

On top of that, knowing that these fears are irrational doesn’t help at all. People with Mysophobia frequently feel that they are missing out on life due to these fears of theirs. 

4. Feels constantly stressed

Having just one thought playing over and over in your mind. Then having to perform long and straining activities repeatedly.

It will make anyone feel stressed and tired at the end of the day. Especially when the thoughts are about cleanliness and the activities are washing yourself and your environment.

How can someone feel relaxed, calm, and stress-free when their mind is going at 100 miles per hour and their body is supposed to keep up with it? 

That is exactly what happens with people with Mysophobia. They constantly feel stressed because of their thoughts and try to reduce it through their activities which leads them to being tired. 

5. Can lead to depression

One of the major reasons for people developing depression is feeling helpless and hopeless. And that is a feeling many people with Mysophobia are familiar with. No amount of stopping or controlling has any effect on their irrational fears. 

Not being able to go outside because of this fear, not being able to sit peacefully without the urge to wash themselves or their hands after touching something.

That is something that leads to feeling helpless and hopeless about yourself. Which directly leads to a person developing depression. 

6. Difficulty in connecting with their loved ones

If you asked your family members and friends to constantly wash their hands before touching anything. Not being able to go outside to any festival or take a trip with them.

Not being able to meet up with a bunch of friends in a cafe can make you feel disconnected from your loved ones.

No matter how much love and support one receives from their friends and family there is a limit to how much of our irrational fear they are ready to bear with us.

They might be ready to comply with 5 of our activities but the other 5 will make them feel frustrated. 

That’s when the difficulty in connecting and making them understand the situation happens. Many times the loved ones start to withdraw their support as the person’s condition of Mysophobia gets severe. 

7. Difficulty in attending school or workplace

A sneeze from a coworker may make you want to switch seats and not interact with them all day. Going to the public bathroom at your school or workplace may seem like a scene from your worst nightmare. 

Such instances in our school or workplace make it difficult for a person with Mysophobia to function without feeling fearful of germs or contamination.

Not sharing your food or tasting someone else’s ever is something that is frowned upon by the community and the person is not seen as very approachable. 

Making friends who understand and comply in such situations can be very difficult. 


Common causes of Mysophobia

How does wanting to keep yourself safe turn into an irrational fear? Well, the exact cause of Mysophobia is not known but there are a few possible explanations that help us better understand it.

Some of the common causes of Mysophobia in a person can be:

1. Traumatic event

Sometimes a traumatic event can trigger the fear of germs and contamination leading to a person washing their hands repetitively. 

Losing a loved one due to a virus or bacteria can trigger the need to stay away from germs and clean oneself repeatedly. It can at times become an unhealthy coping mechanism for the person. 

Since they do not want to lose someone close to them again to a virus they feel that avoiding germ-ridden places can help them avoid the tragedy from happening again. 

According to a research conducted on women, traumatic events were the best predictors for Mysophobia in them. 

2. Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Many people who have Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have repetitive thoughts and engage in repetitive actions to deal with those thoughts. 

One of the common thoughts and actions that many people with OCD engage in is worrying about germs and washing their hands. Fear of contamination and ensuring that your surroundings are clean are quite common. 

Even if the person wants they are unable to put off their irrational fear and compulsive behavior. They find it very difficult to ignore the thought of germs and carry on with their lives. 

3. Family history

Many children who have parents diagnosed with Mysophobia tend to show early signs of the same. Many researchers believe that it could be due to genetics.

Though no specific gene has been identified to cause Mysophobia from the parent to the child, research is still going on in that field. 

While other researchers believe that the thoughts and actions have been passed down from adults to children through words and observations.

That many children learn to avoid crowded places with germs and wash their hands repetitively by watching their parents do the same. 

4. Exposure to knowledge about germs

For some individuals, the condition of Mysophobia started to begin with their knowledge about germs, contamination, and the benefits of washing one’s hands.

But the information may have been incomplete or too graphic to have an impressionable lasting effect on the person. 

Information solely about the harmful germs that are present in our environment and their harmful effects on our human body can lead to fear in anyone.

This knowledge can alter the way a person lives their life and develop a very strong irrational fear in them. 

5. Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression as mental health conditions lead to a person feeling out of control of their life and everything about it. That’s when any hope to regain that control is held on tightly by the individuals. 

Something similar happens when Mysophobia is developed among individuals with anxiety and depression.

They start to obsess over the tiniest thing they can control it being germs and contamination and start making efforts to avoid it. 

Cleaning oneself and one’s surroundings can help a person feel in control and provides a channel to let out those anxious feelings or feelings of helplessness in an individual. 

6. Availability of hygiene items

The increase in the availability of hygiene items is also a contributing cause to more individuals having Mysophobia.

With the availability of more and more specific cleaning products, individuals spend more time using them to clean their surroundings. 

Plus to advertise their products companies focus on the harmful effects of germs and how prevalent they are in one’s surroundings.

This only feeds into the individual’s irrational fear of germs and contamination and leads them to spend a huge amount of money on cleaning supplies. 

Repeatedly cleaning oneself and one’s surroundings can be quite expensive on the person’s pocket. 


How common is Mysophobia

According to The National Institute of Mental Health for specific phobias, the prevalence rate is around 9.1% with more females (12.2%) having it than men (5.8%). 

Coming to Mysophobia which is a type of specific phobia is pretty common. Since it also overlaps with Obsessive-Compulsive disorder (OCD) its exact prevalence rate is unclear.

Many individuals experience the fear of germs and contamination which leads them to repetitively wash their hands. 


Celebrities who have Mysophobia

At the end of the day celebrities are also people with fears and worries like us. But there are some celebrities with Mysophobia who have openly discussed it and shared their personal life experiences about it. Some such celebrities are:

1. Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diaz the famous American actress and model has been known to repeatedly wash her hands throughout the day.

She also uses her elbow to open doors and at times scrubs her door handles too hard that the paint wears off.

2. Howie Mandel

Howie Mandel, most notably known for being a judge for America’s Got Talent and hosting the show called Deal or No Deal has openly talked about having Mysophobia and OCD. He has refused to shake hands with people unless he is wearing latex gloves. 

In case anyone grabs his hand to shake it, he has run away screaming to wash his hands. He has admitted to being able to only use his own bathroom and no public bathroom at all.

He shaved his head stating that it made him feel cleaner.

3. Kari Byron 

Kari Byron from Mythbusters has openly admitted to being a germaphobe and has been avoiding germs and contamination around her. It was seen in the episode ‘Mythbusters Contamination’ that she was the only one who did not catch any contamination among the 6 people using her experience.

It was not too hard for her and she was not even surprised that she was able to avoid it so well. You can check out her confession using the link below:

4. Donald Trump

Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States of America is a man whose story of being a Mysophobic has been reported over and over again.

The stories of how visitors are to wash their hands before entering the Oval Office, to asking people to leave the room if they start coughing are well known. 

The White House staff are instructed to stay clear of him if they are visibly sick. He hates shaking hands with people and that has led to problems in his old business days.  

5. Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson the American legend was endlessly ridiculed and taunted about for his behavior caused by Mysophia.

He was seen wearing surgical masks and gloves because he felt that he can’t get ill for his fans. To ensure that he remained healthy and was present for his concerts he took special care to avoid the germs.

6. Sal Vulcano 

Sal Vulcano from Impractical Jokers is also open about his fears of germs, along with cats and heights. Knowing about his fears, most of the punishments given to Sal are about being in the dirt or at a height.

He has often complained in interviews about the lack of hygiene maintained by his friends and how it affects him negatively. 


Recovery rates for Mysophobia

With early detection and proper treatment, the recovery rates for Mysophobia are very high and very quick.

There are specific and targeted treatment plans for people having Mysophobia and with the help of the correct professional help, one can say goodbye to Mysophobia very easily. 

The recovery rates for people with severe Mysophobia are also quite high and with continuous efforts put in by the person they can slowly and steadily overcome it. 

Mysophobia is a lifelong problem only if it’s left untreated. It is important to consult a mental health professional when you start experiencing discomfort due to your overpowering thoughts and fears. 


Mysophobia and OCD

The terminology for Mysophobia was used in 1879 by William Hammond who coined the term ‘germophobia’. He coined it while making observations of people who had an obsessive-complex disorder and were washing their hands repeatedly. 

It is important to note that Mysophobia does not automatically mean that the individual has OCD as well until the proper diagnosis for it is made.

For the diagnosis of OCD, there need to be excessive and unreasonable standards of hygiene involved while crossing off all the signs and symptoms that are given by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) and International Classification of Diseases (ICD) manuals. 


Important facts to know about Mysophobia

Here are some facts that we should pay head to about Mysophobia and individuals who suffer from it so as to have better clarity about it:

  1. Mysophobia is a specific phobia that occurs only when specific conditions are met. Only when a person fears being under the threat of contamination due to germs. 
  2. People with Mysophobia view the world as a ‘filthy place’ and the only way to stay healthy is to stay clean. 
  3. Mysophobics end up exposing themselves to more harmful chemicals in the process of using cleaning products. 
  4. They might know that their fear is irrational and just in their head, yet they can’t let go of it. 
  5. Individuals with Mysophobia spend a great deal of time thinking about germs and microbes. 
  6. The more an individual with Mysophobia falls ill, the more their need to clean increases. 

How is Mysophobia diagnosed

To diagnose Mysophobia one needs to consult a mental health professional and inform them about your symptoms. Full disclosure about your fear of germs, contamination, and getting sick needs to be done. 

Along with that, how many times you wash your hands and clean your surroundings needs to be told. In case of anxiety attacks caused due to Mysophobia must be shared without fail. 

All the information shared by you about your lifestyle will help the mental health professional get an in-depth understanding of the problem. They can then make a proper diagnosis of your problem and its severity. 


When to visit a doctor for Mysophobia

Despite knowing the signs and symptoms of Mysophobia, a person might be unsure if they should visit a doctor or not.

One needs to look at how Mysophobia is affecting their personal, social and occupational life. 

Here are some signs to let you know when to visit a doctor for Mysophobia:

1. Disturbing functioning of normal life 

Washing your hands, surroundings, and having a hygienic lifestyle are very good but when these activities start disturbing your everyday functionality.

That’s when you need to visit a doctor or a mental health professional to help it get under control. 

As soon as the fear of germs and contamination feels like it is stopping you from performing your normal life functions it is recommended to visit a professional. 

2. Causing emotional distress 

When the irrational fear of germs and contamination starts causing emotional distress like worrying, tension and anxiety it’s advised to seek the help of a doctor or mental health professional. 

Emotional distress can negatively affect all areas of life, personal, social, and occupation resulting in problems in all spheres of one’s life.

Before this emotional distress leads to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems it is better to seek treatment for it. 

3. Unable to socialize due to this

When your social life starts to disappear due to Mysophobia you must visit the doctor or mental health professional.

It involves both meetings and going out with family and friends as well as engaging with people in schools and offices. 

When the thought of catching illness due to germs stops you from meeting people it’s a sign to get help. 

4. Discomfort in leaving home

Mysophobia as we talked about can lead to social phobia if left untreated. Individuals find it difficult to leave their homes and go out due to the fear of germs.

 Leaving the house and touching outside objects is such a stressful thought that one can’t even imagine doing it, is a clear sign that one needs to visit the doctor. Even if in the beginning it’s on a call from home. 

5. Unable to physically connect with loved ones

When touching your loved ones doesn’t make you feel warm and safe but instead makes you worry about the infection and germs they may be carrying is a sign to visit a doctor. 

Being finicky about hugging or holding hands with a loved one who hasn’t just washed their hands can put a strain on your relationship with them. And before that relationship is lost for good, it’s better to seek help. 

6. Present for 6 months or longer

If the signs and symptoms mentioned above are present in an individual for 6 months or more they should seek the help of a doctor or mental health professional immediately. 


Who can help with Mysophobia treatment

Once we have identified the problem and understood how detrimental it can be to our lives, the question arises who can help us.

Who can help us provide us with the proper guidance and treatment we require to let go of Mysophobia and return to our normal daily functioning? 

Many professionals can help us with Mysophobia in many different ways giving us the option to choose a treatment method that we feel would work for us best.

With different treatment plans, different experts can help us. Some of the experts are:

1. Psychiatrists

Psychiatrists are doctors who can help with mental health problems by prescribing medicines to help us combat the problem at a biological level.

They can also provide us with therapy but the focus is more on the biological aspect of the problem. 

2. Clinical psychologists

Clinical psychologists provide a wide range of treatment options for Mysophobia which include talk therapy, meditation, and relaxation techniques, along with other techniques and activities. 

Their focus is on helping us gain insight into the problem, understanding the development behind the irrational fear, and helping find solutions that would fit our problem and be comfortable with us. 

3. Psychologists experienced in dealing with phobias

Psychologists or therapists who are experienced in dealing with people with phobias can help with Mysophobia. They understand the irrational fear behind the thoughts and activities as well as the inability to let them go very well.

Since they have dealt with people with phobias before they have a greater understanding of the practicality of therapy techniques and treatment plans. 

In case you are still unsure whom to approach for Mysophobia, you can reach out to any mental health professional and discuss with them your situation.

They’ll be sure to properly guide you to the appropriate mental health professional you need to consult.  


Treatment options for Mysophobia

There are numerous treatment options including Medications, Psychotherapy, Exposure therapy and Cognitive Behavioral therapy.

Like the numerous mental health professionals who can help you with Mysophobia, there are numerous treatment options available. These treatment options are all helpful and produce great results. 

The only difference is in their approach to your situation. Some approach the problem of Mysophobia biologically, some as an irrational fear, and some as faulty learning.

Different approaches provide the mental health professionals and the client to look at the problem from all angles and select the one that would make the treatment go fastest and the recovery smoothest. 

Some of the commonly used treatment options for Mysophobia are:

1. Medications

Medications are a good way to control irrational dealing and thoughts as well as take care of additional mental health problems like anxiety and depression.

Only a psychiatrist and not a psychologist can prescribe the medications for Mysophobia.

The medications include antidepressants like SSRIs for anxiety and depression. These medications help the individual to gain control over their overpowering thoughts and feelings.

It regulates the simulations of neurotransmitters in our brain which affect our mood and thoughts. 

With these medications, it becomes easier to control obsessive thoughts, irrational fears, and the need to engage in repeated activities. 

2. Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is a form of therapy where the aim is to find solutions to problems, replace unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones, and increase the level of happiness felt by a person. 

Individuals with Mysophobia can benefit from this therapy by being able to vocally express their fears, anxiety, and stress that is being felt by them.

Being able to express oneself in an accepting and non-judgmental environment is therapeutic in itself. It allows us to look for faulty thinking patterns and inspect how the whole situation arose. 

Psychotherapy can help us gain insight into the severity of our problem and using talk therapy find short as well as long-term solutions for it. 

3. Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy is a type of therapy where the individual is exposed to irrational fear either physically or mentally. It allows for the individual to interact with the fear without enduring any harm from it.

The main aim of the therapy is for the person to engage with the fear up close and understand how truly terrifying it is. 

For individuals with Mysophobia, different types of exposure therapy can be used. One of them is flooding, where the individual is exposed to a lot of germs-ridden objects and not allowed to wash their hands or leave the area.

With flooding, the individual is directly exposed to the fear and with the guidance of the mental health professional overcome the fear. 

Another such technique is systematic desensitization where the individual is first taught relaxation techniques and then slowly the fearful object is added to their environment. To help with relaxation, deep breathing, guided meditation or any such technique is used.

Then the individual is asked to rate on a scale how much fear does thinking about the fear, being in the same room as the fear, and interacting with the fear up close cause.

Then along with meditation, they are exposed to the fear slowly until they feel relaxed and calm around it. 

Systematic desensitization may take longer than flooding; it has been proven to be more effective and safe for the individual seeking therapy. 

4. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy aims at understanding the reasoning behind an individual’s thoughts and actions. This treatment method focuses on the faulty learning and thinking methods that might have been adopted by the person.

They feel once the learning is unlearnt and the unhealthy thought patterns are identified and corrected the irrational fear will go away. 

Individuals with Mysophobia might have learned some wrong information about germs which drives their fear. In CBT the focus would then be to help the person gain insight about this and rectify it accordingly. 


Self-help tips to control Mysophobia

Some of the self-help tips that one can practice are increasing their knowledge about germs, practicing meditation and relaxation exercises.

Also keeping oneself distracted with hobbies and joining a support group for Mysophobia can help.

While a lot of treatment options involve professionals, there are a few things that we can do on our own for Mysophobia. Some of the activities we can try to reduce the severity of Mysophobia are:

1. Reading up on germs

One of the very first things that a person with Mysophobia can do is read up and learn about the nature of germs. Since the fear is of germs and getting contaminated by them, understanding their existence and how harmful they truly are is of extreme importance. 

At times we build up how bad things are and rather than fact-checking we keep collecting information that supports the fear.

It is necessary that a person with Mysophobia also reads up on how germs also help in building our immune system and what their contribution to our environment is. 

Reading up on how likely we truly are to fall sick because of the germs in our surroundings and how much safety from them is enough should be particularly read up on. 

2. Meditation

We need to relax our mind and body to deal with the stress and anxiety caused by Mysophobia. Meditation is a great way to do that as it allows our mind to leave the worries and tension behind and be calm and peaceful. 

Meditation can help us with nerve relaxation and can be practiced in the face of fear to help the body and mind avoid physical and mental distress. It provides clarity and a better understanding of ourselves and our environment. 

These could include breathing exercises, guided meditation, chanting, spiritual meditation, etc. 

3. Relaxation and mindful practices

Teaching the body and mind to relax is important but making them mindful of their surroundings is more important. It’s relaxation and mindful practices that allow us to dig deeper into our actions and thoughts. 

Mindful practices include stopping one’s activities and taking a moment to pay attention and realize what one’s actions and thoughts are. Many times we are working in an auto-pilot mode which mindful exercise helps us realize and come back to reality. 

When our thoughts get too overcrowded by fears of the past or future, mindfulness allows us to breathe in the present. It allows us to gather up our thoughts and focus on what needs to be in the present tense. 

Many times the fear of getting infected or falling sick in the future stops us from recognizing that we are healthy in the present moment. 

4. Engaging in different hobbies

Distracting ourselves with different hobbies that bring us joy can be quite enjoyable. Especially in comparison with tension, stress, and anxiety that would otherwise pre-occupy our minds.

Engaging in activities that bring us joy de-stress us and allow us to live in the present. 

Sometimes the mind keeps overthinking about germs, contamination, and what one needs to do to protect oneself.

When these thoughts are replaced by productive happy thoughts and actions it helps reduce the severity of Mysophobia in individuals. 

5. Reach out to self-help groups

Reaching out to self-help groups can help you out immensely since you get to interact with people who feel the same way as you. 

Being surrounded by an accepting and understanding group of people provides us with an emotional support group that we can rely on. It has been shown that having a strong support system can help a person recover faster and keep the occurrence of falling back that much lower.

Self-help groups provide a forum to connect with people who are similar to you as well as find practical solutions to your common problem. 


Mysophobia test

As of now, there is no official test that one can take to assess if they have Mysophobia or not. Instead, one can consult a mental health professional for the same and get a proper diagnosis for it. 

Your mental health professional may ask some questions about your thoughts and activities based on which they determine the severity of your Mysophobia. Some of the generally asked questions are:

  • What are your opinions about germs?
  • How frequently do you think about germs? 
  • Has there ever been a traumatic incident with you related to germs?
  • How is Mysophobia affecting your everyday life?
  • Has there been a change in your daily routine recently?
  • Is there any personal or family history of obsessive-compulsive disorder?
  • How do you feel in crowds or public spaces?
  • Have been avoiding any activities due to the fear of germs or contamination? 
  • How many times do you wash your hands?
  • How frequently do you clean the areas around you?

Answers to these questions help mental health professionals determine how much has Mysophobia affected you and your life. It also helps them gain insight into your situation, feelings, and thoughts about the same. 

Parting Thoughts from ThePleasantMind

Finding the fine line between staying tidy and having Mysophobia can be difficult at times. So the easiest way to identify the line is to ask ourselves, “is my attempt to stay clean stopping me from doing things I want to?”

Once you have identified the answer to be yes, it’s time to discuss it with your family and friends. Next, discussing and seeking help from a mental health professional is very important. 

After COVID-19 we have attempted to live a more sanitized life but we should ensure that we are not overdoing it. 

No health at the cost of our mental disturbance and distance from loved ones is worth pursuing. 

There are ways to stay healthy without letting it interfere in our day-to-day lives. So let’s take a step toward a healthy and mentally peaceful lifestyle.

Are you interested to know more about ‘Technophobia’ then click here?

Article Sources


1. https://www.verywellmind.com/all-about-msyophobia-fear-of-germs-2671871
2. https://www.psycom.net/mysophobia-germophobia
3. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22436-mysophobia-germophobia

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