What is Trypophobia? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

Trypophobia is the fear of patterns, bumps, and small holes. A person would feel fear and disgust while seeing the cluster of bumps. The small holes can be pores of a person, close-up images, and seed pods. Today, we’ll discuss what is trypophobia; its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

Researchers have been debating whether it’s a genuine condition or not. The description of trypophobia came into existence on the online platforms in 2005, but the 5th edition of DSM (diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorder) hasn’t identified it as a separate condition. However, it doesn’t formally fall under the category of phobia, but its symptoms are excessive and persistent and they cause a lot of distress and impairment.

What is Trypophobia? 

Trypophobia also goes by the name of fear of holes. It is significant to mention here that certain types of patterns and bumps close grouped together fall under its category. However, when a person comes across such objects, then one would experience panic attacks, shaking, sweating, itching, nausea, and fear.

Its common sign is fear, but people describe it with disgust as a kind of overwhelming emotion that people experience in phobia. The condition tends to be highly visual, if you’re seeing the pictures online or in print, it would trigger feelings of anxiety and revulsion.

For instance, a young girl doesn’t feel good when she comes across objects and surfaces covered with dots and holes. If you ask the child to draw the image of her fear, then she would fill the paper with the repetitive patterns of round dots.

A study published in 2013 showed that 16% of the participants have discomforting and disgusting feelings when seeing the picture of the lotus seed pod.

Trigger Points 

Studies have shown that trypophobia is a rare condition. Some of the objects and elements that could trigger its symptoms are as follows;

  • Strawberries
  • Sponges
  • Pomegranates
  • Lotus seed pods
  • Eyes of the insects
  • Honeycombs
  • Bumps on the flesh or holes
  • Decaying flesh or holes in the disease
  • Fruit seeds
  • Coral
  • Condensation
  • Bubbles
  • Bubbles wraps

The pattern and bumps could be man-made or in the animals, they would cause the fear and phobic reaction in the person with this condition. 

Symptoms of Trypophobia 

The symptoms of trypophobia are similar to any other type of phobia. Some of the main symptoms that a person would experience after seeing the bumps and small holes are as follows;

  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Breathing rapidly
  • Panic attacks
  • Nausea
  • Itching
  • Goosebumps
  • Revulsion feelings
  • Anxiety and fears
  • Emotional distress

The symptoms of trypophobia could lead to disgust and fearful feelings. People with this condition also experience behavioral changes along with experiencing the symptoms of disgust and fear. Usually, they avoid the triggering objects. For instance, they avoid visiting such places and rooms that dotted wallpapers, and they avoid eating chocolates and strawberries that have bumps and small holes.

Causes of Trypophobia 

There are a few research studies to explain the cause of trypophobia. Some of the main relevant theories are as follows;

Evolutionary Causes

The condition has an evolutionary response relevant to dangerous situations and diseases. It’s because the bumps and small holes characterize infectious diseases, parasites, and skin diseases. However, the other reason is that the person would experience disgust rather than fear while coming across triggering objects.

Dangerous Animals Links

The cluster of small holes is similar to the appearance of the skin of venomous snakes. The unconscious association in their minds makes them fearful. A study conducted in 2013 showed that people with this condition respond to particular stimuli more than those without conditions.

Infectious Pathogens Links

A study conducted in 2017 showed that the participants would link the pattern of small holes with skin-transmitted pathogens. Participants involved in the study exhibited feelings of skin crawling and skin itching. However, it’s our instinctive evolutionary response to the potentially threatening situation, and it helps us to remain safe.

Visual Characteristics Response

Studies have shown that the discomfort of people has relevance to the visual characteristics of seeing the pattern. The experience of discomforting feelings is related to visual patterns than linked its dangerous animals. Other researchers are questioning whether trypophobia is a real phobia or not, because of the visual stimuli.  

Treatment of Trypophobia 

No treatment plan has turned out to be effective for dealing with the symptoms of this condition. Some of the main treatment plans that doctors recommend for dealing with the symptoms of mood disorders and specific types of phobias are as follows;


Doctors usually prescribe anti-anxiety medications and antidepressant medications. They comprise of following;

  • Beta-blockers
  • Benzodiazepines
  • SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors)


Participating in the CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and working alongside your therapist would help you to change your thought pattern that is causing the development of a trypophobic condition. It comprises replacing the unrealistic thoughts with the realistic ones towards changing your behavior. However, it is the process of exposing yourself to the feared objects gradually, and it decreases your reaction towards them.

Conclusion: What is Trypophobia? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

After an in-depth study of what is trypophobia and discusses its symptoms, causes, and treatment; we’ve realized that trypophobia is a rare condition. If you’re experiencing its symptoms, then you should discuss it with your therapist.