Let’s Discuss The Foot Phobia, or Podophobia
Do you look at your feet and feel intense panic?
Do you have a fear of feet touching you? Do you avoid your significant other’s feet while sleeping in the same bed?
Does the thought of a pedicure cause you to become dizzy or sick to your stomach?
If you have a hatred of feet, a fear of being barefoot, or want to keep your feet covered at all times, you may be one of the 1 in 1,000 people in the United States that have The Foot Phobia.
It may be hard to believe that this is a real fear, however, it is a phobia that causes many of the same symptoms as any other phobia. Of course, this fear is irrational—everyone has feet, right? However, those that suffer from podophobia can even have a hard time taking a shower unless they keep socks on their feet.
Some solutions can help you if you feel you have a fear of feet. The first step is to accept you have this phobia and then learn when and where this fear began. From there you can seek professional help if needed.
What Is the Fear of Feet?
Fear of feet is a phobia in which a person cannot stand looking at any feet including their own. This phobia causes the person to wear socks the majority of the time, even in bed or in the shower. Due to the constant wearing of socks, fungal infections can occur without the person realizing it.
Fear of feet comes from the Greek work podos, for “feet” and phobia for “fear.” Podophobia is different for each person. Some cannot even talk about feet or see someone wearing sandals. If you have podophobia you may have a fear of people touching your feet or a fear of feet being uncovered.
What Causes Podophobia?
The cause of podophobia is unknown, however, experts have their ideas.
Some believe that it could be caused by a traumatic event in a person’s past that had to do with feet. An example would be an older brother or sister that would kick you, which caused you to hate or fear feet. Some individuals suffering from The Foot Phobia may become angry or scared when seeing someone’s bare feet.
A few physicians believe that the fear may be genetic, meaning that it was inherited since you may not remember any reason in your past that would cause you to be afraid of feet.
Ailments such as hammertoe or bunions may be the cause of fear of feet in some as their feet may hurt due to an illness. If your feet hurt, you will have a tendency to protect them, which can lead to having a fear of not having your feet covered at all times. In some cases, even the mention of feet can cause you to remember the anguish you had which can cause you to have symptoms of podophobia.
Symptoms of Podophobia
As with all phobias, you may experience mental or physical symptoms even though you know that feet are not dangerous. You may feel completely powerless to stop the symptoms.
The physical symptoms of fear of feet include:
- Shortness of breath when you see or think about feet
- Fast heartbeat at the sight or thought of feet
- Always covering your feet
- Asking others to cover their feet
- Will not talk about anything related to feet, such as shoes
- Withdraw from family and friends
Psychological symptoms of the fear of feet:
- Extreme fear
- Link feet with death
- Link feet with dying
- Seeing feet in dreams
- Panic attacks
Treatments for Podophobia
Self-help: What can I do to help myself with Podophobia
It may be difficult to help yourself with fear of feet until you realize you have the problem. In most cases, a person with podophobia believes they have an illness that is causing the problem. Or they believe they are fine, they just don’t like feet or have a hatred for feet.
In the majority of cases, once the problem has been discovered, it is best to seek professional help if the issue is severe. If you are having problems performing daily tasks and social activities due to fear of feet, then therapy will do wonders.
Professional help options
Counseling has proven successful for individuals suffering from podophobia. The most effective treatment has been cognitive behavioral therapy. The main tool used is a gradual exposure to feet in a safe environment.
The therapy will help you understand that the fear of feet is irrational, which will aid in slowly overcoming the fear. In most cases, therapy begins with viewing photos of feet. The process will progress slowly, so you will feel at ease. As you progress, you may even arrange to receive a pedicure.
The entire process of combating pobophobia will be in a controlled and safe environment, so you can train yourself to see and think about feet without any fear.
In other cases, the therapist may wish to learn the cause of your fear which is known as hypnotherapy. Learning what caused the fear and how or why the fear has progressed can aid in finding the best therapy options for you. With hypnotherapy, you will have to go through your memories in a safe environment until you discover when the fear began, which will aid in helping you face your fear.
Medications Used for Fear of Feet
Most individuals with podophobia do not need medications prescribed. However, for those that are having several intense panic attacks or are anxious all the time, some medicines can help with symptoms.
The medications often prescribed are anti-anxiety or antidepressants which will help you overcome the intense feelings, so therapy will work better. Stabilizing the symptoms often aids in giving you a calm feeling as you go back through your memories to discover, and then overcome, the fear.
Simple Tips for Managing Podophobia
There may not be a way to avoid your feet or seeing feet, but there are a few things you can do to overcome the fear.
If you are trying this alone without therapy, you will need to remember that your feet are important. Then pay attention to what triggers the fear. Once you know the triggers such as watching someone kick a ball or just the sight of a foot, you may learn what to avoid.
Triggers are the most important part of any phobia. Once you learn what triggers the fear besides just the sight of feet, you can adjust your life to avoid the feelings that bring on the panic.