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    Fear of Shoes – Papoutsiphobia

    Papoutsiphobia – Keep Your Feet on the Ground

    Why would shoes scare you?

    Do you have an issue with your feet being bound or incased in shoes? Do you have a problem with the possible smell and unhygienic condition of shoes?

    Perhaps your fear is closer to the fear of feet?

    There may be other aspects to the fear of shoes that affect you, so let’s dig in.

    Is papoutsiphobia a phobia of Fear or Disgust?

    Do you find yourself feeling uneasy when you think of shoes? Does the sight of a pair of shoes make you uncomfortable?

    If you could be barefoot everywhere—all the time—would you?

    If you experience these feelings whenever you think about shoes, you may have papoutsiphobia, the fear of shoes. Although you may not find it in the list of most common phobias, it is just as disturbing as the more popularly known ones.

    The first step in dealing with this fear is understanding why you have it. Try self-help methods to ease the symptoms, but if you don’t experience relief, reach out for professional help.

    Papoutsiphobia Causes

    Even though shoes protect us and offer extra comfort and style, they may cause some ill effects, too. People may suffer the aftermath of wearing ill-fitted shoes in the form of blisters, corns, bunions, athlete’s foot, and hammertoes. Sometimes, shoes can cause nail-related injuries such as ingrown toenails and nail fungus.

    Although these may not be severe injuries, they could take months to heal and can be painful. A person with a bad experience with shoes may develop a phobia of them.

    Besides health issues, there may also be cultural and religious aspects associated with a fear of shoes. In some regions, it’s customary to remove shoes when entering the house. Some sacred places, like temples, require you to remove your footwear before entering. If someone has been conditioned from an early age not to wear shoes, or if they view shoes as a source of contamination, they might develop this phobia.

    Some Things You Need to Know about Papoutsiphobia

    We wear shoes to protect our feet and provide arch support for greater stability. But not everyone agrees with that. A shoe fear can arise from an injury or traumatic experience related to shoes.

    A foot injury is more significant than any other organ injury because it limits our ability to move.  Athlete’s foot, a fungal infection, is the most severe foot infection. It’s caused by poor ventilation and moist shoes and can take a long while to heal. As a result of this experience, the person may avoid wearing shoes and eventually develop a phobia of them.

    Wearing shoes can also cause the following long-term effects:

    • Back Injuries: The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons claims that our bodies are like a chain, with every bone interconnected. So, wearing the wrong shoes can cause long-term back injuries.
    • Joint Pain: Our knees act as shock absorbers. However, constant pressure on the joints can cause arthritis and reduce the shock-absorbing properties of the cartilage, resulting in joint pain.
    • Nerve Damage: Wearing tight or narrow shoes can cause nerve damage, resulting in excessive tingling and numbness.

    All of these injuries are severe and can have a lasting impact on your life. You might think that your fear of shoes is silly, but it is, in fact, quite reasonable.

    Papoutsiphobia Symptoms

    As with any other phobia, a fear of shoes has physical and psychological symptoms.

    Physical Symptoms

    • Nausea
    • Increased heart rate
    • Excessive sweating
    • Chest pain
    • Dizziness
    • Choking sensation

    Psychological Symptoms

    • Anxiety
    • Depression
    • Constantly thinking about shoes
    • Discomfort when someone with you is wearing shoes
    • Panic attacks

    You may experience one or all of the symptoms mentioned above, depending on how severe your phobia is.

    How Is Papoutsiphobia Diagnosed?

    If you feel you may have a phobia of shoes, consult a primary care therapist. Your therapist will ask you questions about your phobia and provide advice on how to deal with it on a day-to-day basis.

    A therapist will likely diagnose you with the phobia if:

    • Your fear is imminent
    • Your fear is greater than the danger you are in
    • You experience symptoms that another condition cannot explain
    • The symptoms have lasted longer than six months

    Papoutsiphobia Treatment


    There is no specific treatment for papoutsiphobia to eliminate the fear. However, if your fear interferes with your everyday life, you may want to consider papoutsiphobia treatment options. You can start with self-help techniques, but seek professional assistance if you don’t see progress.

    Acknowledge the Fear

    Make sure you acknowledge, accept, and embrace your shoe phobia. Take the time to understand your fears before trying to solve them. If you can manage your fear and stay around the source of your fear instead of escaping the situation, you will have a better chance of overcoming it.

    Educate Yourself about Your Fear

    Papoutsiphobia is relatively unknown and new to most people. So, if you’re dealing with it, make sure you learn as much about it as possible. Gather all the information about the fear so you can devise an effective plan to treat it.

    Practice Mindful Meditation

    A small study presented at the 2018 Experimental Biology Conference indicates that a single mindful meditation session can help reverse the effects of stress on the body. An hour of meditation significantly reduced the stiffness of blood vessel walls in subjects, suggesting reduced stress or strain on their arteries. A similar decrease was seen hour after hour following the meditation.

    Relaxation Techniques

    A fearful experience causes your heart rate to rise. Regularly practicing relaxation techniques can help lower blood pressure and relieve tension. As a consequence, you’ll feel happier and calmer. You will also be able to judge situations more accurately.

    Muscle Relaxation

    Muscle relaxation involves relaxing your muscles in two steps. First, you begin by tightening your neck and shoulders, followed by other muscle groups. Then, you let the tension go and observe your muscles relaxing. Practicing this while picturing the object of your fear can reduce your anxiety and stress levels when you encounter it in real life.


    Yoga has been proven helpful in treating individuals suffering from anxiety. Yoga, just like meditation, can help reduce overall stress levels. If you practice yoga regularly, you may experience fewer symptoms of your phobia.

    If you do not see any positive change despite employing all these self-help techniques, you should seek professional help.

    When to Seek Professional Help

    If your phobia does not interfere with your daily life, you can continue leading your life without trouble. But shoe phobia is not something we can ignore. We interact with dozens of people wearing shoes every day, so ignoring this phobia may not be an option.

    Get professional help immediately if:

    • Your panic attacks are becoming more frequent
    • It has become tough to lead an everyday life
    • You have started avoiding people and socializing less
    • You have been experiencing this phobia for six months now.

    Professional Help


    During a 2016 study, researchers found that people who underwent guided hypnosis sessions showed greater focus, more emotional and physical control, and lower levels of self-consciousness.

    During hypnotherapy sessions, the therapist will help you transition to a trance-like state. They may offer posthypnotic suggestions, as your mind is more receptive at this time.

    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

    Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of treatment that works on identifying and modifying negative thoughts, feelings, and behavior patterns. The therapist helps you cope with these unhelpful thought patterns and replace them with more rational ones.

    Learning to Cope with Papoutsiphobia

    There is no way to entirely free yourself of papoutsiphobia. However, you can minimize the discomfort with early diagnosis and treatment.

    Combining self-help and professional therapy can slowly reduce the symptoms of your shoe phobia and help you return to everyday life.

    Ensure you have your family or friends around for support through your journey to make it a little easier.


    It can be hard to live with a fear of shoes. You tend to come across shoes every day, in every possible situation, and there’s no way to avoid them entirely.

    However, with a good amount of self-care or professional therapy, you can return to a life of normalcy. So, tie your shoes and get it done! is looking for personal stories of any "fear of" or phobia. If you have an interesting story you'd like to share, we welcome your submission. If the story fits with our content and guidelines, we'll add it to our site.

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