Trypophobia: Triggers, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, & More - Healthroid

Trypophobia: Triggers, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, & More

Mayank Pandey
Written by Mayank Pandey on February 27, 2023

Trypophobia is an aversion to seeing irregular patterns or clusters of small holes, such as those found in a honeycomb. This term was coined in 2005 and has become increasingly recognized in recent years. It is not classified as an official psychological disorder, but it does cause distress for some people who suffer from it. Symptoms may include fear, disgust, anxiety, or unease when viewing images with this type of patterning or cluster formations. Some people also experience physical sensations such as shivering, sweating, goosebumps, and increased heart rate while viewing these images.

The exact cause of trypophobia is unknown but it has been suggested that it could be related to evolutionary fears as clusters of small holes may resemble dangerous animals such as snakes or spiders. Additionally, there have been suggestions that the fear could be linked to a reaction to specific colors associated with these patterns – often they are vivid colors that can create a heightened sense of discomfort and fear. Treatment options for trypophobia include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure therapy, psychotherapy, and medication if needed.

What triggers it?

There are a variety of things that can trigger trypophobia. These range from images of clusters of small holes or bumps to patterns that resemble the shapes and forms associated with them. A common example is an image of a lotus seed pod or honeycomb, which has been known to trigger reactions in those with the condition. Other triggers include beehives, sponges, strawberries, coral, animals such as frogs and turtles with bumpy skin or scales; and biological structures like bacterial colonies or blood cells. Even certain facial features can trigger discomfort in some people with trypophobia, such as eyes with small bumps around the edges. Additionally, some everyday items like bubble wrap may also cause anxiety for those who suffer from this phobia.

The exact cause for trypophobia is unknown; however, it has been suggested that the fear could be an evolutionary response to potential threats posed by poisonous animals or plants displaying these patterns. There is also evidence to suggest that these patterns may mimic dangerous organisms like parasites and infectious diseases which further contribute to why they may evoke fear responses in people. Whatever the underlying cause may be, it’s clear that there are many potential triggers for this phobia which makes it difficult for sufferers to prevent their symptoms from occurring when exposed to certain images or objects containing these patterned shapes and forms.



There are several theories that attempt to explain the cause of trypophobia. One possible explanation is evolutionary-based, as some researchers have suggested that our fear of small clusters of holes or bumps may be rooted in an age-old instinct designed to protect us from potentially dangerous organisms such as certain insects and parasites. Another possible explanation is related to the innate human aversion to visible signs of disease or decay, which could include rotting fruit or diseased skin. Furthermore, some people with trypophobia report feeling uneasy when observing images that resemble wounds with scabs and lesions – suggesting a fear response triggered by visual cues associated with bodily harm. Additionally, research suggests that people who experience strong reactions to trypophobic stimuli may also suffer from higher levels of anxiety overall.

Risk Factors

Other risk factors for trypophobia may include repeated exposure to images of objects or patterns that contain clusters of holes or bumps. People who have previously suffered from anxiety, OCD, or other mental health conditions related to fear and phobias may also be more susceptible to developing trypophobia. Additionally, some research has suggested that a person’s personality and coping mechanisms can influence the development of this fear. Specifically, people with higher levels of neuroticism are more likely to experience distress and avoidance when confronted by images that trigger their phobia. Furthermore, individuals who rely on “avoidance-based coping strategies” (e.g., avoiding stressful situations) may be more prone to develop trypophobia due to their inability to confront their fears in an effective manner. Finally, it is worth noting that certain cultural contexts can play a role in the development of trypophobia as well; for example, some African cultures view certain clustered patterns as symbols of danger or death and thus lead others within those communities to develop similar fears about them as well.


The most common symptom of trypophobia is an intense fear response triggered by the sight of clusters of small holes or bumps. This can include images of lotus seed pods, honeycombs, coral, aerated chocolate, and sponges. Those who experience the phobia may feel a sense of dread, revulsion, and discomfort when looking at these objects. They may also experience nausea and sweating in extreme cases. Some people even report feeling itchy or having a burning sensation on their skin in response to such imagery. Other symptoms experienced by those with trypophobia can include rapid breathing, trembling or shaking, dry mouth, and difficulty concentrating. In some cases, this fear can be so overwhelming that it leads to panic attacks or avoidance behaviors such as refusing to look at pictures containing these types of objects or trying to distract themselves from any thought related to them.


Diagnosis of trypophobia can be difficult, as it is not yet recognized by the medical community. While some mental health professionals may be familiar with trypophobia, it is generally not treated in a clinical setting. Diagnosis typically occurs when a person has an intense reaction to images or objects containing patterns of holes, bumps, or clusters of small objects. Symptoms may include sweating, nausea, shaking, difficulty breathing, and increased heart rate. It is important to note that fear of these shapes or patterns is not necessarily indicative of a phobia; people can experience discomfort and anxiety but do not necessarily have a diagnosable condition such as trypophobia.

Due to the lack of research into trypophobia, there are no established criteria for diagnosis. However, some professionals suggest that if the fear interferes with daily activities such as work or socialization then it might warrant further investigation and treatment. If someone suspects they may have trypophobia they should consult their healthcare provider who can help them explore potential causes and develop coping strategies to manage their symptoms.


Treatment for trypophobia typically involves cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This type of therapy helps individuals identify and challenge irrational fears and replace them with more rational thinking. The therapist works with the individual to help them confront their fear by breaking it down into manageable steps. Initially, the patient is exposed to images of clusters or holes in a controlled setting, such as during a therapy session, so they can gain control over their fear. Over time, the patient is gradually exposed to more triggering images in order to desensitize themselves from their fear. In addition to CBT, medication may be prescribed in more extreme cases in order to help reduce anxiety levels associated with trypophobia. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications have been used successfully to treat some individuals who suffer from this condition. Ultimately, the goal of treatment is for patients to learn how to manage their fear without relying on medication or avoidance behaviors.


Trypophobia is an intense fear of clusters of small holes and bumps, often found in nature such as on a honeycomb or lotus seedhead. People suffering from trypophobia experience a wide range of symptoms including nausea, sweating, shortness of breath, and panic attacks when exposed to these patterns. To prevent the onset of trypophobic reactions, there are several steps that can be taken:

Firstly, it is important to avoid exposure to images or situations that can trigger trypophobic reactions. This means avoiding images such as honeycombs, lotus seedheads, and bubble textures. If you find yourself exposed to any of these stimuli unexpectedly then it is best to look away immediately and take deep breaths until the feeling passes. Additionally, it may help to practice relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation or mindfulness meditation in order to stay calm during moments of exposure.

Secondly, it is beneficial to seek professional help if necessary; Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has been shown to be effective in managing phobias by helping sufferers recognize the irrationality behind their fear response and gradually desensitizing them through exposure therapy. A qualified therapist can also provide strategies for dealing with anxiety-provoking situations should they arise in day-to-day life.


Overall, trypophobia can be a difficult and uncomfortable experience for those affected by it. While there is not much scientific research available to understand the phenomenon, anecdotal evidence suggests that its effects can be severely debilitating. As such, it is important to take any reported instances of this phobia seriously and try to find effective ways of managing it. Research into the causes of trypophobia could help provide further insight into how best to treat it. Education on the topic may also prove beneficial in reducing the stigma surrounding this condition and encouraging people to seek help if they are suffering from its effects. Ultimately, understanding more about trypophobia will allow us to gain better clarity on what action should be taken when confronting this phenomenon.

Published on February 27, 2023 and Last Updated on February 27, 2023 by: Mayank Pandey

Mayank Pandey
Written by Mayank Pandey on February 27, 2023

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