Dermatophobia: causes, symptoms and treatments

In the long list of over 200 registered phobias, some are better known than others. One of the lesser known but which causes great discomfort to those who suffer from it is dermatophobia.

Throughout this article we will describe the features of dermatophobia, as well as its symptoms, causes and the most effective treatments for this phobia related to skin problems or diseases.

    What is dermatophobia?

    Also known as dermatopathophobia or dermatosiophobia, dermatophobia is one of the many specific phobias that a small percentage of the population suffers from. This anxiety disorder is characterized because, in the case of people who suffer from it, it appears a deep dread of skin diseases or any type of damage that occurs on the skin.

    Although not a common phobia, people with dermatophobia experience extremely high rates of discomfort and anxiety, reaching the point of an obsessive life, overprotecting their skin so that it does not suffer any damage and perform constant examinations and checks on your skin condition.

    Another of the main features of dermatophobia is the wide variety of manifestations that it causes in different people. Since any stimulus which may represent or be a precursor of skin disease is likely to be perceived as a threat, it is difficult to determine exactly what is causing the anxiety reaction in the person.

    For example, a person with dermatophobia may experience an anxiety reaction when they notice that their skin is a little dry, while another may react to an itch or think that using cosmetics or soaps may. damage his skin. Therefore, in dermatophobia, the interpretation of the stimulus depends entirely on the criterion of the person.

      Fears associated with this disorder

      Unlike other phobias, in dermatophobia the person can fear both the fact of suffering from a skin disease and the other external objects or agents that can cause it.

      Likewise, this phobia is not caused by a series of specific or fixed stimuliBut these can vary depending on the beliefs or subjectivity of the person.

      Therefore, other stimuli associated with dermatophobia that can generate an anxiety response in the person are:

      1. Insects

      The only chance that an insect will cause injury or damage to the skin by a bite, it causes the person to have an anxiety reaction typical of a disorder anxiety.

      2. Temperature changes

      Both sudden changes in temperature and situations of cold or heat it can cause itching or irritation of the skin as well as dryness. Therefore, a person with dermatophobia will tend to avoid any setting in which these changes can occur.

      3. Burns

      A person with dermatophobia will tend to avoid places where there is a fire such as fireplaces or places where there are people who smoke because the risk of burns is perceived as very high.

      4. Needles

      Although these have a specific phobia, it is not the needle itself that causes the fear but the possible damage it can cause to the skin.

        5. Piercings and tattoos

        Both the idea of ​​getting a tattoo or piercing and the fact of observing them on the skin of others it causes a feeling of aversion or repulsion in dermatophobic people.


        Dermatobia belonging to the category of specific anxiety disorders, she shares her symptoms with most phobias.

        This wide range of symptoms occurs as a result of increased activity of the nervous system which is accelerated by the presence of the nervous stimulus. This activity causes three types of symptoms in a person: physical symptoms, cognitive symptoms, and behavioral symptoms.

        1. Physical symptoms

        The moment the dermatophobic person perceives a change in their skin or is confronted with a possible threatening stimulus, they begin to urinate a series of changes in their body specific to the anxiety response. These changes include.

        • Heart rate increased.
        • accelerated breathing.
        • Palpitations.
        • Excessive sweating.
        • muscle tension.
        • Headache.

        • Pupils dilated.
        • nausea.
        • Chills or tremors.
        • Feeling unreal.

        2. Cognitive symptomatology

        Like other phobias, the onset of physical symptoms is triggered by cognitive symptoms. In other words, for a series of beliefs and fears that the person has about the phobic stimulus.

        In this case, the person has a number of distorted thoughts or misconceptions about skin diseases, their symptoms, and the agents that cause them.

        3. Behavioral symptoms

        Due to the cognitive symptoms mentioned above, the person will also experience a number of behavioral symptoms, which they manifest themselves in avoidance or evasion behaviors.

        Therefore, in dermatophobia, people will adopt all kinds of behaviors to avoid changes in the condition of their skin, such as constant checks, excessive hygiene or fear of using cosmetics or avoid the areas where they are. may encounter potential threats.

        the causes

        As with many other anxiety disorders, the causes or origins of dermatophobia have not been specifically established.

        However, it is hypothesized that a genetic predisposition coupled with experiencing some type of very stressful or traumatic situation in which the person, or someone very close to them, has suffered damage to the skin could cause the skin damage. appearance of this type of phobia.


        In the treatment of dermatophobia is essential using psychotherapy to end distorted thoughts and beliefs that generate the rest of the symptoms. In addition, a systematic desensitization intervention combined with relaxation training is usually the most effective option.

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