What is Acarophobia?
Acarophobia is an overwhelming, irrational fear of small bugs that can cause itching. The acrophobic person may fear insects such as mites, scabies, ticks or lice. Some individuals are so severely impacted by this phobia, that they believe that their skin is covered with bugs and that their homes, furnishings, etc. are infested.
These acrophobic people may actually “feel” a sensation that bugs are crawling over their skin.
People who have this fear may buy tons of bug spray, seal off any possible ways for insects to enter their house or car, sweep, vacuum or clean their homes daily and/or they may feel anxiety about living their safe places.
Acarophobia derives from the Greek word “akari”, meaning mite and “phobos” meaning fear.
As is the case with all phobias, the individual coping with Acarophobia has experienced a real-life trauma at some point in their life. That traumatic experience is then automatically and consistently associated with small insects and itching skin.
Acarophobia is more common among women than men. Based on this, one could logically assume that this phobia could sometimes be the result of hormonal changes.
Perhaps other acarophobic individuals have experienced allergic reactions that have caused an itching, crawling sensation. Maybe the person coping with this phobia, has experienced living in an area that actually had a higher than average infestation of insects that could cause itching. Perhaps, as a child, the person simply watched the negative reactions of others and learned to imitate that response.
Whatever the cause, the acarophobic individual can experience anxiety and emotional turmoil that is completely disruptive to their ability to function.
The symptoms of Acarophobia are individual and will vary from person to person. Some people, when confronted with their fear, may feel uncomfortable, nauseated or begin to perspire. At the opposite end of the spectrum, other individuals are so severely compromised by this phobia, that they can experience paralyzing anxiety and/or panic attacks.
Other symptoms of Acarophobia can include:
• Crawling Skin
• Incessant Itching
• Heart Palpitations
• Dry Mouth
• Rapid Heartbeat
• Heightened Senses
• Muscle Tension
• Feeling Dizzy
• Feeling Out of Control
• Feeling Trapped
• Intense Feeling of Anticipated Disaster
When the fear of small insects and itching becomes so intense as to disrupt a person’s ability to function, there are a number of different ways to treat Acarophobia.
These can include:
• A referral from the primary physician to a therapist who specializes in the treatment of phobias.
• Traditional “talk” therapy that will teach the person to recognize and control their phobia.
• Exposure Therapy.
• Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Desensitization Therapy.
• Self-help techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation.
• Support groups with others coping with this specific phobia.
• Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or visualization.
• In extreme cases of Acarophobia, anti-anxiety medications can be prescribed.
Acarophobia is an intense, irrational fear of small insects that can cause itching. Sometimes that fear can become so overwhelming as to completely halt a person’s ability to function. Unchecked, Acarophobia can become a debilitating condition that interferes with the individual’s personal life, their social life and their job responsibilities. Untreated, Acarophobia can impact every aspect of a person’s life.