Fear Of Germs (Mysophobia): Signs, Causes, Consequences, Treatment

Mysophobia, or fear of germs, is the irrational fear of being in contact with or contaminated by dirt or germs. It is a fear that belongs to the family of phobias and OCD. It is often difficult to live with; it causes panic attacks that can lead to unconsciousness. Follow-up by a psychiatrist or psychologist is necessary to learn to live better and manage fear.


Misophobia, which comes from the Greek “mythos,” which means “profanation, crime, and impurities”, and from “Phobos”, which means “fear,” corresponds to the irrational fear of dust, germs, dirt, or even odor of sweat. In general, mysophobia people do not tolerate dirt, stains, or direct contact with dust, for example.

  • This fear of panic appears when the fear of being contaminated by a microbe or a parasite becomes unhealthy and irrational.
  • In this case, the phobia can have consequences in all areas of daily life, whether at work, at home, or outside of it.

What are the signs of misophobia?

Misophobia is expressed more or less intensely according to misophobics. However, some symptoms are familiar: Fear of panic when in contact with dirt, dust, germs, stains, or lousy body odors;

  • The irrationality of fear;
  • The conviction of being contaminated;
  • Avoidance pipes to avoid contact with which could trigger a panic attack;
  • Consequences in daily life, with the impossibility of carrying out specific tasks or being in contact with others.

For some people, misophobia becomes a true obsession that prevents them from functioning normally, whether at work, with family, or friends. His fear then becomes very disabling daily.


  • As with all phobias, there is no single cause, but childhood trauma can often cause this irrational fear.
  • Pollution, stains, or foul odors can cause a real shock that leads to misophobia, especially in anxious personalities.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder


Misophobia can be expressed more or less intensely. In the most severe cases, the consequences can be both physical and psychological:

  • Psychosomatic disorders.
  • Tachycardia, palpitations.
  • Abdominal pain, traffic problems.
  • Profuse sweats
  • Chronic pain, headaches.
  • Panic attacks can lead to loss of consciousness.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Depression, suicidal ideation.

Understanding and supporting their close misophobia is not always easy for those around them. Indeed, faced with the irrationality of the disorder, it is essential to help him, without encouraging his fear, rationalize it, reassure him, and gradually lead him to accept being exposed to what he fears most.

You may also be interested in reading: Fear of disease.

What pathologies are associated with misophobia?

Mysophobia can be associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in many cases. Indeed, to avoid exposure to dirt or odors, the microphone performs rituals of washing and cleaning himself and his surroundings several times a day. When OCD occurs, it is essential to receive psychotherapy with a psychiatrist or psychologist to prevent the disorder from getting worse.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

What is the treatment for misophobia?

  • As with all phobias, cognitive-behavioral therapies (CBT) are particularly effective.
  • These approaches gradually expose the microphone to the idea that dirt, germs, or odors cannot contaminate or harm them.
  • Thanks to this exhibition accompanied by a professional, either a psychiatrist or a psychologist, the person learned to live with their body and environment rationally and adapt.
  • However, therapy can last several months or even several years, depending on the intensity of the disorders.
  • It is not uncommon to use anxiolytic drug treatments for a short period at the beginning of therapy.

Georgia Tarrant
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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.