Germaphobia is defined as the fear of Germs and contamination. It is normal and prudent to be concerned about issues such as cross-contamination of foods, exposure to the bodily fluids of others and maintaining good hygiene. However, if you suffer from mysophobia, these normal concerns become overblown. The phobia is common, affecting even celebrities such as Howie Mandel.
Signs of Mysophobia
- avoiding places perceived as germ-filled
- spending excessive time cleaning and decontaminating
- washing hands obsessively
- refusing to share personal items
- avoiding physical contact with others
- fearing contamination of children
- avoiding crowds or animals
When a person is exposed to germs or potential contamination, they may experience the physical symptoms of panic, such as increased heart rate, nausea, shortness of breath, sweating, etc. To receive a diagnosis, there must also be evidence that the fear of germs has interfered significantly with the individual’s daily life and relationships. A person with Germaphobia will find that their interactions with others and the ability to travel and to work is affected by the desire to avoid contamination or illness.