Scary Holes: A Closer Look at Trypophobia

Humans are unique in that they have various strengths and weaknesses. What interests them, perks them up, displeases them, or even causes fear and discomfort is as distinctive as their looks and personalities are. What makes a person cringe or scared may not be a big deal or even sound weird or absurd to other people.

Our advances in science, technology, and education allowed experts to continue getting a clearer perspective of our species like understanding Trypophobia and why some people fear holes. It may seem odd but some individuals are extremely scared of bumps and tiny cavities. This should not be ignored because such agitation is real to whoever is afflicted with it.

Understanding Trypophobia: Why Some People Fear Holes

Trypophobia is the term for the fear of bunches of tiny holes, humps, and/or patterns. The sight of these things like a close-up photo of skin pores or a honeycomb elicits a feeling of fear, displeasure, and disgust. Any person may be afraid of something but when we say phobia, the trigger causes an overwhelming sense of distress.

This word first came out in 2005 during a forum on the internet. The term was derived from two Greek words “trypa” which means hole or burrow and “phobia” which means aversion or fear. As of writing, medical experts still have not formally recognized this as a type of fear. The studies about it are not yet thorough and enough although many people seem to report experiencing its signs and symptoms.

Since investigation on trypophobia is still limited, its cause is still unknown but presumed to be mainly visual. There are some theories about its cause though.

  • Lesions and skin blotches or blemishes are linked with contagious health conditions so the individual wants to avert them.
  • Certain graphic arrangements, when combined with elevated contrast shades, can prompt highly uncomfortable sensations.
  • The holes are associated with threatening creatures that live in holes like venomous snakes.

A recent study published in Experimental Psychology’s quarterly journal revealed that an average of 15% of adults suffer from this type of phobia at certain degrees, 11% on men and 18% on women. Unrecognized it may be, trypophobia is known to affect the populace’s significant portion.


You may wonder what the risk factors are. Below are presumed to raise the likelihood of experiencing trypophobia. These are yet theories as studies are still at their early stages although these seem to be consistent.

  • A history of psychological conditions in the family related to anxiety and fear.
  • Traumatically running into insects, snakes, other distressing objects or creatures.
  • You or someone you know had a terrible episode of a skin problem, contagious or not.
  • Having GAD or generalized anxiety disorder.
  • Having MDD or major depressive disorder.

Trypophobic people are triggered by the sight of stuff like the ones mentioned below:

  • Scabs or lesions on the skin
  • Corals
  • Graveled or pebbled roads
  • Sponges
  • Bubble Wrap
  • Honeycombs
  • Pods of lotus seed
  • Strawberries
  • Pomegranates
  • Swiss Cheese
  • Bread with seeds

When to suspect if you have it? You may feel some or all these signs and symptoms at the sight of a trigger.

  • A crawling, tingling, or chilling sensation on your skin.
  • Trembling or shaking.
  • Eye strains, illusions, or distortions.
  • Nausea or gagging.
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness.
  • Generalized feeling of anxiety or discomfort.
  • A strong impulse to unsee the picture or object and move away from it.

How To Deal With Trypophobia


Even if you already manifest some symptoms, anything remains a presumption unless it has been proven true. The first thing to do is to seek the help of a trusted mental health professional. As this condition is still not yet formally recognized, the therapist will not give such a diagnosis. However, he or she will help you understand your circumstance and find ways to deal with it. You can also take the ultimate trypophobia test online to sure if you have this or not before seeking any health professional.

For the therapist to understand your situation better, expect to be asked about these questions:

  • What triggers your distress?
  • What are the specific signs and symptoms that you experience?
  • How often do you experience them?
  • To what extent do these episodes impact your life and activities?

Upon a careful appraisal of your case, the therapist will recommend various approaches that may include any of the following:

  • Breathing Exercises. This has been proven to help in any type of distress as it allows your body to relax. Mastering them can come in handy especially when you are having a panic attack regardless of what the trigger is.
  • Exposure Therapy. With the aid of your therapist, you are gradually exposed to objects and images that trigger your fear. The aim here is to change your response to and perception of the triggers causing your distress. You will slowly yet constantly encounter the causes of your fear and distress until you can handle your feelings.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT. With the therapist’s assistance, you recognize negative thoughts and feelings, challenge them, and then reframe your perceptions about these feelings. This is not only good for trypophobia but also helpful in dealing with overwhelming negative emotions.
  • Medication. A psychiatrist or clinician may recommend the use of antidepressants, beta-blockers, benzodiazepines, and/or buspirone depending on your manifestations and the need for them. These medications will let you calm down and relieve your anxiety.
  • Healthy Coping Mechanisms. As in other types of phobias and anxiety issues, the therapist may also recommend approaches like meditation, yoga, mindfulness tricks, immersion in nature, and learning a new hobby to divert your attention. Not only will they distract you from your triggers but also provide beneficial effects to your body, mind, and soul.
  • Healthy Lifestyle. Consume a healthy diet, work out regularly, get enough sleep, and steer clear of anxiety-triggering food and drinks such as caffeine. Bonding with family and friends and joining a support group can also help.

Dealing with this kind of mental distress begins with understanding Trypophobia. Why some people fear holes is still on the investigation but you can win over it through what experts already know will work.


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