Do Germaphobes Have OCD?

Medically Reviewed on 3/10/2022
Do Germaphobes clean
Germaphobia is linked to obsessive-compulsive disorder; however, not all germaphobes have OCD.

You are said to be a germaphobe when you have a fear of germs (microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, or any other parasites). This fear of germs makes a germaphobe develop an obsession with excessive cleaning and sanitizing everything around.

Germaphobia may be linked to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). However, if you have germaphobia, it doesn’t always mean that you have OCD.

  • OCD features fears and compulsions and you tend to do certain actions repetitively that may affect your daily activities and cause significant distress. This is not the case with germaphobes.
  • If you have germaphobia, you tend to keep yourself and your surroundings clean due to the fear of catching potential diseases.

What are the good, bad, and ugly sides of germaphobia?

  • The good:
    • Being a germaphobe implies that you are concerned about your health. You don't want to get ill. That's why you spend time and effort keeping yourself and your immediate surroundings clean. When flu season arrives, you take the essential precautions to stay healthy and productive.
    • Furthermore, staying clean makes you feel wonderful and even attractive. People will most likely prefer to spend their time with well-groomed, pleasant-smelling folks.
    • According to research, good-looking people are more likely to get employed and promoted. Physical characteristics are not the only factors that contribute to a person's good looks. It's a mix of good physical attributes, self-care, and characteristics such as self-esteem and confidence. When you are clean and feel good about yourself, you exude confidence.
    • Being a germophobe in COVID-19 times certainly has its advantages.
  • The bad:
    • Too much of anything such as too much of everything else may be harmful. Handwashing can help you avoid getting flu and other infectious diseases but that doesn’t imply you should scrub your hands raw 20 times a day.
    • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you should wash your hands before eating, before and after preparing food, after using the restroom, and after coughing or sneezing. Too much handwashing can cause dermatitis or even fungal skin infections, brittle nails, and bleeding skin.
  • The ugly:
    • Being a germaphobe might completely take over your life. According to, true germaphobes have obsessive-compulsive disorder, which can take numerous forms, such as when you wash your hands or purchase cleaning supplies out of dread.
    • When cleaning becomes a ritual that consumes your life, things start to become ugly. It has the potential to cause more harm than good. You spend hours cleaning or performing a ritual, which causes you to become more agitated and less productive.
    • Having just the proper degree of germ paranoia can be beneficial. When you recognize yourself as having an obsession, you may seek support from family members and specialists.


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What are the symptoms of germaphobia?

Psychological symptoms of germaphobia include:

  • Apprehension or fear of germs
  • Anxiety, worry, or nervousness caused by germ exposure
  • Considerations of germ exposure, resulting in sickness or other undesirable consequences
  • Thoughts of being gripped with terror in settings where germs are present, attempting to divert yourself from germ-related thoughts or events
  • Feeling helpless to overcome germaphobia that you understand as illogical or excessive
  • Avoiding or leaving situations that are thought to expose one to germs
  • Excessive time spent thinking about, preparing for, or postponing events that involve germs, seeking help to cope with the fear of situations that trigger fear and difficulties functioning at home, work, or school due to germaphobia

Physical symptoms of germaphobia include:

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Medically Reviewed on 3/10/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

Cleanliness Rules Germaphobes' Lives: