Medical Definition of Erythrophobia

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Erythrophobia: An abnormal and persistent fear of blushing. Sufferers of erythrophobia experience undue anxiety even though they realize their fear is irrational. Their anxiety results from worry about being the focus of attention and the subject of embarrassment. Attempts to suppress blushing often have the opposite effect. Sufferers of erythrophobia tend to avoid social gatherings and workplace projects that require them to interact with, or speak before, groups of co-workers.

"Erythrophobia" also can refer to fear of the color red because of what it may symbolize, such as blood. The terms "redcoat" (British soldier in the American Revolution) and "red" (synonym for "communist") gave Americans valid reasons to fear red. Other terms with "red" that have a negative connotation include "redeye" (an overnight air flight), "caught red-handed" (caught with evidence of guilt) "red-herring" (a deceptive tactic), "red ink" (a financial loss) and "seeing red" (angry).

"Erythrophobia" is derived from the Greek "erythros" (red) and "phobos" (fear). "Erythros" also gives us the English words "erythema" (inflammation of the skin that causes reddening) and "erythrocyte" (a red blood cell).

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Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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