What Is Ablutophobia? Causes & Treatments

Louis Laves-Webb, LCSW, LPC-S

November 21, 2022

Ablutophobia is an unexplainable and overwhelming fear of cleaning, washing, or bathing. Like other phobias, ablutophobia is a form of anxiety disorder. Also like other phobias, ablutophobia is centered around a fear of a specific situation. Ablutophobia can result in people having severely diminished hygiene, and in turn, discomfort in several situations in which a person without this phobia would be fine. In this post from the Louis Laves-Webb, LCSW, LPC-S blog, we’ll discuss ablutophobia, its symptoms, causes, and treatments.

What Are The Symptoms of Ablutophobia?

Ablutophobia comes from the Latin word abluito, meaning a washing, and the name of this phobia accurately describes some of its symptoms. In short, ablutophobia is an extreme and irrational fear of bathing or washing, as well as cleaning in general. This fear results in many of the same symptoms of other phobias, which tend to fall in line with the symptoms of anxiety disorder. These symptoms may become apparent while bathing, washing, cleaning, or even just thinking about one of these activities. The symptoms of ablutophobia include:

  • Intense dread, fear, or anxiety the closer the situation approaches
  • Panic attacks while performing or thinking about the situation
  • Knowing that the fear of the situation is irrational, but being unable to avoid the negative feelings
  • Anxiety about your fear of the situation impacting your day-to-day life
  • Unexplainable sweating
  • Rapid heartbeat and heart palpitations
  • Difficulty breathing
  • In children: crying, tantrums, and clinging

What Causes An Individual To Have Ablutophobia?

Like many other phobias, the exact causes of ablutophobia are mostly known. Most medical health experts believe that phobias of any kind stem from one or a combination of the following:

  • Traumatic Experiences: Some individuals experience phobias as a result of a traumatic experience. In the case of ablutophobia, this would be a negative experience while bathing or washing.
  • Genetic Disposition: If one or both parents suffer from ablutophobia, their child is more likely to have this phobia as well.
  • Changes in brain function: Injuries, aging, and other factors can result in changes to the overall function of the brain.

How Is Ablutophobia Treated?

Ablutophobia is treated similarly to anxiety disorder, which involves working alongside a therapist for the best results. Unfortunately, many people think that there is no cure or help for their struggles with ablutophobia, so this condition often goes untreated. Contrary to what these individuals may think, there are several effective treatments for ablutophobia and any kind of phobia for that matter. Treatments for ablutophobia include, but are not limited to:

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT): CBT can help individuals manage the negative thoughts and feelings associated with bathing, washing, or cleaning. Cognitive behavioral therapy trains the patient to use problem-solving skills to have a better logical solution to the many issues they may see with bathing and the problems that can come with then not bathing.
  • Exposure Therapy: Exposure therapy helps patients get more comfortable with the uncomfortable ideas of washing or bathing. Bathing or washing when you don’t necessarily need to can make the process of bathing or washing by necessity easier to handle.
  • Medications: In severe cases of ablutophobia, medications may be prescribed in order to deal with the anxiety and uncomfortable feelings that come with bathing or washing. In most cases, a therapist will recommend trying several other tactics before resorting to medication in order to overcome your fear of bathing.

Overcome Ablutophobia With Louis Laves-Webb, LCSW, LPC-S & Associates

At Louis Laves-Webb, LCSW, LPC-S & Associates, we’ve helped countless Austin area residents overcome phobias of all kinds. If you’d like to learn how to overcome ablutophobia with the help of a licensed therapist, contact Louis Laves-Webb, LCSW, LPC-S & Associates. Contact us over the phone or online today for a free consultation.

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