What Is Trypophobia: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

Last Update on December 5, 2023 : Published on February 20, 2021
What Is Trypophobia

Do clusters of small holes, bumpy patterns, high-contrast colors, or certain graphic arrangements make you feel disgusted or fearful? Cautious! These could be the signs of Trypophobia which is fear of holes.

Wait! What is Trypophobia?

Trypophobia does not make it to the most usual and popular list of phobias that are experienced by the masses. However, it is a type of phobia (fear of holes, fear of holes in skin, or fear of cluster of holes) that is triggered by seeing objects with holes or bumpy patterns.

Trypophobia image

It’s not a diagnosis that makes it to the list of mental health conditions as suggested by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental Disorders (DSM-5). The signs of Trypophobia are similar to a typical phobia and hence it is a matter of concern for an individual’s mental wellness.

Some theorists have claimed that as these patterns are similar to dangerous animals like venomous snakes or crocodiles, the unconscious association between the two triggers Trypophobia.

Additionally, research shows that trypophobia can also be triggered by the phobia of holes in the skin which we usually encounter while watching ASMR videos on social media or while watching YouTube. 

What does Trypophobia Mean

The word Trypophobia originates from the Greek words “Trypta.” which means hole and “Phobos,” which means fear. Basically, it is a fear of holes and objects or patterns. These items are harmless, triggering strong emotional and physical reactions every time they see patterns of these kinds. Talking specifically about trypophobia in the skin, animals with spotted skin or furs such as Dalmatians, leopards, or dart frogs can also be the cause of concern. 

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Fear of Holes?

After looking at these an individual is likely to experience signs that are similar to other specific phobias. The symptoms of Trypophobia (fear of holes) are:

  • Nausea
  • Goosebumps
  • Feeling repulsed.
  • Visual discomfort like illusions, distortions, eyestrain.
  • Distress.
  • Feeling itchy or your skin crawl.
  • Sweating
  • Body shakes.
  • Feeling uncomfortable.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Fear and anxiety.

What Triggers Trypophobia (Fear of Holes)? 

Unlike other phobias where something dangerous, life-threatening, or unusual things trigger the phobia symptoms, that is not the case of Trypophobia. The symptoms of Trypophobia are triggered by harmless patterns and items phobia of holes in the skin that are seen every day.

Some of these triggers of Trypophobia are:

  • Sponges,
  • Honeycombs
  • Skin pores,
  • Strawberries,
  • Soap bubbles,
  • Poppy-seed bagels,
  • Swiss cheese,
  • Pomegranates

Apart from this, some other images that are also likely to trigger fear of holes or fear of holes in skin:

  • Lotus seeds pods,
  • Morphed and photoshopped pictures that show a row of holes on different human body parts.
  • Coral reefs.

Trivia: in 2017 American Horror Story made use of photoshopped images of women with holes on their hands, faces, and other body parts. This set off the fear of holes or phobia of holes in the skin in many and also to tweet protests.

Is there Science Behind Trypophobia

If you are asking yourself why these images trigger uneasiness in some, let me tell you it is backed with scientific reasons. According to psychologists, Arnold Wilkins and Geoff Cole (2015) Trypophobia evolved through evolution by natural selection.

Researcher Tom Kupfer and An T.D.Le further supported this reasoning. They suggested that Trypophobia is an exaggerated response to a natural protective tendency to avoid infectious skin, trypophobia skin or threats from dangers (like snakes, crocodiles, and other insects).

Are you Having Trypophobia?

There is no well-researched way to diagnose the condition of fear of holes or phobia of holes in the skin. Usually, a mental health professional may take a detailed interview asking you about your signs and symptoms. Further, the treatment approach will be suggested depending on the signs shown by you.

We have a small activity for you that can help you find holes and patterns disturbing stimulus for you or not. We are sharing an image with you. Choose a response from the options given below.

Trypophobia test image

Trypophobia Test


A: I am fine. It does not bother me.

B: I feel a little uneasy.

C: I feel nauseous


A: You are good to go.

B: Try to manage your signs through the self-management tips shared above.

C: We would suggest you get in touch with a mental health professional.

How To Manage Signs of Trypophobia

People with mild aversion can usually manage the symptoms of Trypophobia without professional assistance. Here are some basic ways to manage signs of Trypophobia:

  • Avoiding the triggers.
  • Enlisting understanding friends and family to alert them to potential triggers in the surroundings.
  • Deep breathing exercise.

What are Trypophobia Treatment Approaches

The trick shared above can help people with a mild aversion manage their fear triggered by Trypophobia images or fear of holes in the skin.. However, if the fear starts to interfere in daily life activities there are different approaches for your rescue.

1. Exposure Therapy:

Through this therapy, an individual learns to tame the phobias via progressive steps. It involves desensitizing along with deep breathing, relaxation exercises, and reminding oneself of not having any danger in the surrounding.

Exposure therapy helps you decrease your sensitivity toward the Trypophobia skin triggering images, bringing back the calm to you.

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2. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT):

This tapping technique is profoundly used to reduce stress and anxiety in an individual. By bringing your mind-body to calm, it can help in reducing or eliminating Trypophobia. A study has shown that EFT can help reduce the intensity of phobias.

3. Community:

Some communities are solely dedicated to helping people with Trypophobia. You too can connect with others who are experiencing the same condition and work on it together (after all, together we can). Look for these communities in your area or go digital and find one either on Instagram or Facebook.

Celebrities with Trypophobia

If you are thinking that you are the only one with unusual: Trypophobia, do not worry there are some celebrities with the same issue. Kendall Jenner in the year 2013 revealed that she is suffering from Trypophobia. Along with her, Sarah Paulson also shared with Ellen that she is afraid of holes.

Even celebs have these peculiar phobias such as fear of holes or fear of holes in the skin! So, do not worry you are not the only one who can not stand the sight of honeycombs!

Do share your response with us in the comments section below. Let us find out who is with me in Team B! You may also share it with your friends to how they perceive and react to it. You can further continue with it as a discussion over coffee.

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About The Author

Anjali Singh
Anjali Singh

Anjali Singh is a content curator in the field of Mental Health. She is currently done Ph.D. in Psychology. Her aim is to light up the world with positive vibes through her words, her idea of life is ‘Grow through what you go through’. Apart from this, she is a big-time pet lover.

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