What Is Mysophobia?


According to the Oxford Dictionary, mysophobia is a noun that means an extreme or irrational fear of dirt or contamination, also known as germophobia, germaphobia, bacillophobia, and bacteriophobia. Mysophobia is a pathological fear of contamination and germs that affect daily routine. People with mysophobia avoid contact with things that are contaminated, including people. Causes of Mysophobia are due to genetic or environmental factors or any traumatic experiences.1,2


Some of the common symptoms of mysophobia are:


The exact causes of mysophobia are not fully understood, but some possible factors are:


Mysophobia can be treated with various methods, such as:

  • Exposure therapy: 

This involves gradually exposing the person to their feared situations or objects, such as germs or dirt, in a safe and controlled way to help them overcome their anxiety and reduce their avoidance.

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT): 

This involves identifying and challenging the negative thoughts and beliefs that fuel the fear of germs and replacing them with more realistic and positive ones

  • Medications: 

These can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder that may accompany mysophobias, such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. However, they do not cure the phobia itself and should be used along with therapy

  • Stress reduction: 

This involves learning and practising relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or exercise, to cope with stress and anxiety that may trigger or worsen mysophobia.1,2,3


What is the difference between mysophobia and OCD?

Mysophobia and OCD are different but related conditions. The main difference is that:

  • Mysophobia is a specific phobia that involves an intense and irrational fear of germs, dirt, or contamination.
  • OCD is a mental disorder that involves recurrent and intrusive thoughts (obsessions) that cause anxiety and repetitive behaviours (compulsions) that aim to reduce the anxiety

Some people with mysophobia may also have OCD, and some people with OCD may have obsessions or compulsions related to germs or cleanliness. However, not all people with mysophobia have OCD, and not all people with OCD have mysophobia.

How common is mysophobia?

The exact prevalence of mysophobia in the general population is unknown, as there has been no formal evaluation of this condition. However, some studies have suggested that mysophobia may be associated with other anxiety disorders, such as OCD, which affects about 2.3% of adults worldwide. Mysophobia may also be related to misophonia, which is a strong dislike or hatred of certain sounds, and which may affect about 15% of adults (or 1 in 6.5 adults).

Can it be cured completely?

There is no definitive cure for mysophobia, but there are treatments that can help reduce the fear and anxiety associated with germs and improve the quality of life of people with this condition.3,4


Mysophobia is a fear of germs that can affect daily life. It can cause symptoms such as obsessive washing, avoidance, anxiety, and physical distress. It can be caused by various factors, such as trauma, genetics, or media. It can be treated with therapy, medication, or stress reduction.


  1. Punton J. Mysophobia, with report of case. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease [Internet]. 1905 Oct [cited 2023 Aug 10];32(10):617. Available from: https://journals.lww.com/jonmd/citation/1905/10000/mysophobia,_with_report_of_case.1.aspx
  2. nhs.uk [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2023 Aug 10]. Overview - phobias. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/phobias/overview/
  3. Mysophobie – Angst vor Viren überwinden [Internet]. Arztphobie. Available from: https://www.arztphobie.com/phobien/mysophobie-angst-vor-viren/
  4. Verywell Mind [Internet]. [cited 2023 Aug 10]. Coping with the fear of germs. Available from: https://www.verywellmind.com/all-about-msyophobia-fear-of-germs-2671871
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Fatima Zehra

M. Phil in Pharmacy, Hamdard University, Pakistan

Fatima is a Pharmacist and Freelance Medical Writer with working experience in Pharmaceutical,
Hospital and Community Sector. She is passionate to educate people about health care. She has a
great interest to communicate complex scientific information to general audience using her
experience and writing skill.

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