Fear of Bathing (Ablutophobia): Characteristics, Symptoms, Treatment

Fear of bathing or ablutophobia (from the Latin ablution ‘to wash’) is the persistent, abnormal, and unjustified fear of bathing, washing, or cleaning oneself. Generally, children and women are the ones who suffer from this phobia, according to studies published by experts, whereas men have a meager percentage. Other specialists indicate that the condition in children is changeable since hygiene habits can favorably change this condition in infants.


  • Ablutophobia is more common in European nations, as well as among people of European descent in other countries because bathing was not a common practice for a long time in most of Europe until the modern era.
  • Scientists say that in the 16th century, almost everyone in England, France, and other European countries had symptoms of ablutophobia. Elizabeth the first of England is known as one of the “cleanest” people in Europe for washing her body once a month.
  • However, back then, that was considered too washable and unhealthy.
  • Research shows that ablutophobia symptoms led to a significant contribution to fragrance development.

You can also read Fear Of Losing Control: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment.


The symptoms of ablutophobia, as well as many specific phobias, are as follows:

  • Feelings of panic, dread, horror, or terror
  • Recognition that fear goes beyond normal limits and the real threat of danger
  • Automatic and uncontrollable reactions practically take over the person’s thoughts.
  • Rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, tremors, and an overwhelming desire to flee the situation – all physical reactions associated with extreme fear
  • Extreme measures are taken to avoid the feared object or situation.
  • Shame is one of the most frequent symptoms due to the reaction that others may have due to the unclean condition.
  • In some cultures, this can represent a severe problem, especially if there are judgments that can lead to the complication of fear of bathing.
  • When this happens, the patient’s reaction is usually to shut down and not seek help.


  • The most important thing is that the person recognizes the phobia, with the help of their relatives, looks for a solution; that is, they must go to a specialist to treat their condition.
  • To treat these cases, therapists recommend the combination of Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, where the patient can express his motives and expose himself to his fear, face it and try to resolve the situation.
  • There are anxiety medications that medical professionals can prescribe as well. However, these medications have yet to show much promise in treating specific phobias such as ablutophobia.

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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.