What Is Xerophobia

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Fear of dryness is called Xerophobia. "Xero" means dry, and "Phobos" means fear in Greek. This particular form of phobia is quite rare.1

A person with this condition could find it very difficult to have dry skin, or to be in a dry environment. The very thought of this can lead them to feel so anxious and agitated that they might have a full-blown panic attack2 as a result one avoids dryness. Avoidance being a recurrent behavior reduces anxiety and makes one feel good.

For example, One opts to live in humid, tropical regions to avoid experiencing dryness. They will constantly apply ointments and creams to keep their skin hydrated. No matter how hot they feel, they won't like air conditioning because the chilly air dries their skin.1

Causes of xerophobia

The development of xerophobia may be significantly influenced by both environmental and genetic factors. For instance, someone may just need to go through some kind of traumatic event to develop a full-blown irrational fear of dryness if they have a family history of mental illness. This can be because they have a genetic predisposition to mental disease in general.

Most mental health professionals agree that environment and heredity may both play major factors in the development of this disorder, even though the exact etiology is unknown.2

Symptoms of xerophobia

Anxiety is the main symptom of xerophobia, just like it is in all other particular phobias. People with an unreasonable fear of dryness suffer from severe anxiety, which can lead to panic attacks, as previously stated.

An adrenaline rush causes the patient to go into flight or fight mode when he believes he is in the presence of his fear triggers. In this state, one's physiological reactions to situations that cause dread aid decision-making.1

A panic attack can cause physical symptoms but not limited to ones below3 

  • trembling with sweating
  • chills or hot flashes
  • feeling of being choked or having trouble breathing
  • tachycardia, or an accelerated pulse
  • nausea 
  • butterflies in the stomach
  • chest ache, or tightness
  • feeling faint, numb, or pins & needles 
  • headaches and dizziness
  • ears ringing
  • dry mouth
  • the urge to use the restroom
  • confusion
  • breathing difficulties
  • escalation of blood pressure


DSM-V4 is used to diagnose xerophobia. It states that to qualify, a person must have at least three physiological signs of a particular phobia together with anxiety that lasts for at least six months.

Management and treatment for xerophobia

One of the most popular forms of treatment for phobias, including xerophobia, is exposure therapy. In this type of treatment, the patient's dread of drying out will be progressively introduced by the therapist over a certain length of time. Over time, this will help individuals become acclimated to their fear, even if it will unavoidably cause them to experience an undesirable anxiety spike.

Certain symptoms related to xerophobia may also be lessened by antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications. For long-term rehabilitation, however, taking medicine alone without any kind of therapy might not be the most successful approach. Some of the therapies include

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)2

MBSR is an evidence-based, eight-week program that provides intense, secular mindfulness training to those experiencing anxiety, stress, depression, and other mental health issues. A person with xerophobia may find great relief from their condition using MBSR, as mindfulness meditation has been proven to be very helpful for nervous individuals.

Drug therapy: There are three types of medication for treating anxieties

  • antidepressants
  • tranquillisers
  • beta-blockers3


They are one of the most widely used methods of relaxation for a large number of people, not just one of the numerous treatment therapies used for xerophobia. When a person is in a specific yoga posture, yoga tends to encourage the meditative state of their mind.

Through yoga, the mind is diverted towards something more productive and calm, allowing the person to escape the negative, distress-causing thoughts.1

Cognitive behavioural therapy

For individuals suffering from nearly all types of mental illnesses, it is one of the most widely used forms of treatment. As a result, the therapist assists the patient in changing these unreasonable ideas with more sensible ones. The patients receive assistance in evaluating and rationalizing their reactions to the stimuli that cause them to worry.

Therapists help patients identify the causes of their fear and then provide them with more positive, uplifting ideas.1


Exercise is quite helpful for those with anxiety disorders, such as Xerophobia. In particular, cardiovascular exercise is a highly effective stress reliever and aerobic exercise is more effective in producing feel-good chemicals like endorphins in the brain. Exercise can help condition the mind to better handle stressful situations, according to the American Psychology Association.

Engaging in different forms of physical activity such as walking, jogging, biking, skiing, and swimming helps lessen your xerophobia symptoms. Playing sports like tennis, soccer, basketball, racquetball, and many more can help you reap the many benefits of physical activity. Over time, regular exercise could be able to help ease some of the discomfort brought on by xerophobia).2

Caffeine reduction for xerophobia

A Lot of coffee consumed during the day might contribute to increased anxiety. When we examine the physiological effects of coffee on our bodies, this makes sense. A large coffee intake causes our hearts to beat more quickly and makes us nervous. Caffeine-containing beverages include tea, coffee, and various energy drinks. In actuality, several foods—like dark chocolate—also contain caffeine. Increasing your awareness of the amount of caffeine you consume each day may help you feel less xerophobic.2

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) for xerophobia

DBT is a highly successful treatment method for those who have trouble controlling their emotions. Treatment for borderline personality disorder frequently involves its use. However, it can also be highly beneficial for those with anxiety disorders such as xerophobia. This is because participating in a DBT group can teach you a plethora of coping techniques. Depending on how many people join, these groups can have anywhere from two to many members and usually continue for six months.5

Half-smiling is a particularly useful DBT technique for xerophobia sufferers. This technique involves thinking about what worries or fears you while raising the corners of your mouth slightly and smiling a little—hence the phrase "half-smiling." Just thinking about your fear while grinning a little isn't enough, though; you also need to make an effort to ignore any unpleasant feelings that your particular worry might arouse.2

Neuro-linguistic programming

It's a psychological strategy that covers methods for attempting to accomplish a personal objective. It connects thinking, language, and behavioral patterns. Effective communication, modeling, and action are the three main components of NLP. It implies that everyone uniquely views the world.

Patients who utilize NLP perceive the world from both their own and other people's perspectives by comprehending a variety of viewpoints. To help patients with xerophobia comprehend their feelings, beliefs, and behaviors, NLP therapists use cognitive behavioral therapy. With an understanding of the patient's "personal" reality, they help them create new, constructive ideas.2

Self-help techniques

Taking care of oneself is one of the best strategies to go through any challenge that may come along in life. It's essential to know how to take care of oneself to manage not only your fear of dryness but also other phobias and worries before they worsen.3


 Xerophobia, is a peculiar combination of biological, psychological, and environmental elements. A comprehensive approach to diagnosis and therapy is necessary due to the wide variety of physical and mental symptoms associated with this disorder. For both medical professionals and those seeking support, it is essential to comprehend the causes and risk factors of xerophobia. A comprehensive approach to diagnosis guarantees a more efficient and customized solution, taking into account everything from genetic predispositions and psychological foundations to environmental factors.

When xerophobia presents clinically, it can show up as a wide range of symptoms, from physical to psychological. Obtaining an accurate diagnosis requires both medical and psychological testing, and it is essential to creating a treatment plan that works. Options for treatment include dietary adjustments, therapeutic interventions, and if required, prescription drugs. Coping mechanisms, like utilizing self-help methods and building support networks, are essential for day-to-day xerophobia management.

Overcoming the stigmas attached to xerophobia will require greater awareness and education. Environments that are more accommodating and supportive for people battling this phobia can be created by promoting an understanding and empathic approach. The prognosis and long-term outlook differ in the process of conquering xerophobia. Nonetheless, people may overcome their anxieties and have happy, meaningful lives with the correct interventions and a network of allies.


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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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Anit Joseph

BAMS, Ayurvedic Medicine/Ayurveda, Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences

Anit Joseph is a skilled Ayurvedic practitioner with a Bachelor's degree from Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences. She excels in diagnosis, herbal remedies, and personalized treatment plans, aiming to empower her clients to achieve holistic wellness through Ayurveda.

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