What Is Trypophobia?

Updated on July 1, 2017
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I have a B.A. in English with a minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies. I've been a Goth since age fourteen, and a Pagan since age fifteen.

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Trypophobia is defined as an irrational fear of multiple holes placed closely next to each other. One of the most understandable examples is a beehive; however, anyone who Googles the phobia will find themselves bombarded with images of lotus pods that have been photoshopped into body parts. As with other phobias, when those affected with Trypophobia view triggering objects or images, they may feel a need to itch themselves, they may feel sick, or they may run from it. Nonetheless, one may wonder why anyone would be afraid of holes; especially, those they know were photoshopped.

There are a few theories:

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Those afraid of holes in the skin are often afraid of infection. Some of the images created online turn the lotus seed pod into a wound. They change the plant's color to match the skin-tone, as well as add redness for swelling and/or blood. Our human vulnerability to infections makes it easy to sympathize with these images, since it's an everyday reality. After all, breaks in the skin can be a threat to our health, and survival.


Insects and small animals like to burrow in the ground, trees, and so on; therefore, it is no surprise that the sight of holes would cause concern. The mystery of whether or not a living thing lies within those holes is what gives one the creeps. Then, again, even if the creatures are not in the holes, at the moment, they could be nearby. Identifying these signs is a natural instinct for survival; therefore, analysis of these situations is not insane.


Many poisonous insects and animals have spots of diverse sizes on their bodies; therefore, there is a theory that evolution has taught us to instinctively fear these irregular patterns. Examples of poisonous animals with these spots are the dart frog and the Timber rattlesnake. In evolutionary theory, the survivors learned how to identify danger before they became victims. Today, the families of these groups know what to avoid.


Trypophobia sufferers fear some foods with holes. Perhaps, the reason is the same for why skin with holes and/or nature with holes would make someone uneasy. They may fear an infestation, and/or an impurity within; unfortunately, this makes it very difficult as many foods naturally have holes in them; especially, bread-based foods and cheeses.


Trypophobia has yet to be officially recognized by the American Psychiatric Association; however, after research, scientists Geoff Cole and Arnold Wilkins are in favor of declaring it a real phobia. They agree that it stems from an evolutionary survival skill rather than senselessness.

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All phobias are about irrational fears. This article may help others understand this uniquely reasonable one. Hopefully, it hasn't made readers believe they have it. It is understandable that after learning about this phobia some question if it personally affects them. If this is the case, there are a number of options to free oneself from this disturbing condition.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

    © 2014 social thoughts


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    • social thoughts profile imageAUTHOR

      social thoughts 

      4 years ago from New Jersey


      Thank you for reading and sharing. I am so sorry to hear that. :( Hopefully over time people will come to accept it as a phobia and be more supportive.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I have it and it's terrible. It should definitely be considered a real phobia.

    • social thoughts profile imageAUTHOR

      social thoughts 

      5 years ago from New Jersey


      Thank you. I haven't met anyone with it, yet. So, that must have been an interesting way to learn about it. I hope the article does help people. :)

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I never heard of trypophobia until 2 years when a hubber told me they suffered from it. I can't imagine. Of course it's a real phobia if some one is disturbed by it. I'm sure those who have this phobia will feel less alone when they stumble across this article.

    • social thoughts profile imageAUTHOR

      social thoughts 

      5 years ago from New Jersey

      billybuc, I agree with you that as long as it affects people, it is real. Thank you for reading!

    • social thoughts profile imageAUTHOR

      social thoughts 

      5 years ago from New Jersey

      dragonfly, Thank you for your comment. I hope it didn't disturb you too much. It took me a few days to get over it, myself!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I don't have trypophobia, but looking at all these holes and the images people use to photoshop with is disturbing enough. I can't look at multiple holes ever again! Interesting hub!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I've never heard of it. Is it a real phobia? As long as someone suffers from it, then it is real. :) Thanks for the education.


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