What Is Germ Phobia?

You may have heard about famous germophobes like filmmaker Howard Hughes, money man Donald Trump, Deal or No Deal’s Howie Mandell, and 90210’s Shannen Doherty. Germ phobia is an intense fear of something that poses little actual threat — but can cause severe anxiety or a full panic attack.

Yes… tiny bacteria do cause countless diseases.

The best way to prevent colds, flu, and other illnesses is through personal hygiene! Washing your hands is incredibly important. Unwashed hands can spread food-related germs like salmonella and E. coli. More hand washing could prevent a lot of illnesses! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (also known as the CDC) says that as many as seventy-six million Americans each year suffer a food-related illness that could have been prevented by better hygiene!

And speaking of food-related illness… be sure that whatever meats you eat are cooked thoroughly! Judge your meat’s doneness by temperature, not by color, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Another way to increase your immunity is through exposure — this is where the idea of vaccinations comes from. You are exposed to a weakened form of a disease, to help your body develop defenses.

Germ phobics, however, worry about things that aren’t really dangerous. Hotel sheets and towels, for example, or airline pillows and blankets. If they have been laundered — even if they are stained — there isn’t much you can catch. The heat of the water has taken care of most of the germs the last person left behind. The real problem on airplanes, in offices, and during the winter is the poor ventilation. Recirculated air tends to be dry, which can harm your delicate nasal passages. The mucous membranes in your nose are your first line of defense against germs! Fresh air, nasal sprays, and humidifiers can help keep things working right in your nose.

Germ phobia is a kind of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Experts don’t know for sure what causes OCD. It may be a chemical imbalance, which can be helped with certain medicines; it could be a brain communication issue. Germ phobia may be mild or severe, and may last for decades. Talk to a health care professional if you feel that your germ concerns are irrational, or are taking over too much of your life.